The past decade has seen a sustained move by students of international institutions and organizations to viewing their subject matter as independent variables affecting state interests and policy. Conceptually, this has put a premium on identifying the mechanisms connecting institutions to states; methodologically, there has been a growing concern with measuring process. While this move has produced rich and analytically rigorous studies that demonstrate the multiple roles – good and bad – institutions play in global politics, significant challenges remain. In terms of design, scholars often neglect the problem of equifinality – where multiple causal pathways may lead to the same outcome – and instead conduct process tracing only on their preferred argument. Theoretically, the focus on process seems to reduce the power and generalizability of arguments about institutions. Finally, the potential for process tracing to help combine rationalist and constructivist insights remains largely unfulfilled.
Jeffrey T. Checkel homepage: http://www.sfu.ca/internationalstudies/checkel.html
Checkel, Jeffrey T., Identity, Europe and the World beyond Public Spheres, Simons Papers in Security and Development, No. 26/2013, School for International Studies, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, June 2013.
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