Giovanni Agostinis / Detlef Nolte
International Relations | 2021
Latin American regionalism displays a long history of crises, which have affected almost all regional organisations (ROs) across different waves of regionalism. The article conducts the first comparative analysis of the outcomes of crises in Latin American ROs across time, tackling the following questions: What have been the outcomes of the crises faced by Latin American ROs? Under what conditions does a crisis result in the survival or breakdown of the affected RO in Latin America? We adopt a multi-method approach that combines QCA with process tracing to identify the causal pathways to the survival or breakdown of ROs across a universe of eight crises. The findings show that Latin American ROs have been resilient to crises, which resulted in RO survival in seven cases out of eight. The QCA reveals how the distributive nature of interstate conflicts and the availability of majority voting are both sufficient conditions for Latin American ROs to survive a crisis. Analysis of the outlier case of UNASUR shows that normative conflicts that take place in the absence of majority voting constitute a ‘perfect storm’ configuration that can lead to RO breakdown. The findings also show that Latin America ROs’ tendency to survive crises is associated with the preservation of the status quo in terms of institutional design, which in some cases is achieved through the temporary flexibilisation of existing rules. Differently from the case of the EU, then, the crises of Latin American ROs have not led to the deepening of regional integration, but rather to institutional inertia.