Globalisation, Europe & Multilateralism – Sophistication of the Transnational Order, Networks, and European Strategies (GEM STONES)

  • The rapid rise in the number of international institutions increases the complexity of the global system. Does this complexity strengthen or weaken the EU's capacity to interact with the world? This is the core question in GEM-STONES, an integrated research and PhD fellowship programme of 15 European institutions, coordinated by the Université Libre de Bruxelles. The two early stage researchers who stay at the GIGA study regional integration processes and regional security governance.
    EC, Horizon 2020, 2016-2020


    Prof. Dr. Sandra Destradi

    Former Associate

    Research Questions

    GEM-STONES is an integrated research and PhD fellowship programme coordinated by its project management office at the Institut d’Études Européennes (IEE) of the Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB). The project involves 8 degree awarding partner universities, 6 non-academic internship destinations and a publishing house and seeks to shed light on how the EU contributes towards the purposeful management of complex regimes. Its common research agenda is rooted in a shared observation: that the rapid rise in the number of international institutions increases the complexity of the global system, and that managing the latter efficiently and fairly constitutes both a necessity and a challenge for the EU. The project’s scope allows for an innovative training programme, with one of the three main methods workshops hosted at the GIGA, able to offer general and discipline-specific research knowledge as well as tailor-made transferable skills.

    GEM-STONES’s overall objective is to assess how the European Union contributes towards the purposeful management of regime complexes in response to the increased number of institutions, and an ever-greater sophistication of the international system. To this effect, GEM-STONES will investigate the EU's capacity to: (1) project its political choices through international institutions; (2) ensure public policy consistency via existing institutional networks; (3) collaborate in a targeted manner with other regional institutions; and (4) frame rational behaviours within international institutions. In a nutshell, GEM-STONES seeks to find an answer to the following question: Does the complexity of the global system resulting from the proliferation of international institutions strengthen or weaken the EU's capacity to interact with the world?

    Contribution to International Research

    The project will actively contribute to the internationalisation of research and higher education through the institutionalisation of “joint doctorates”. Concretely, this means that each of the 15 PhD candidates will be jointly supervised by two academics from two universities belonging to the consortium, and by a mentor from one of the non-academic partners. GIGA colleagues are supervising one and mentoring two of the early stages researchers. GEM-STONES will deliver international double PhD degrees that are further enriched through the inclusion of a non-academic professional dimension. The project will facilitate the emerging of an integrated community of early stage researchers and their supervisors through a variety of joint activities that will also bring together academics, officials and civil society representatives.

    Research Design and Methods

    With an eye on delivering a coherent common scientific agenda, GEM-STONES research design is set up in such a way as to encourage a common focus on the research programme’s core concept (i.e. purposeful management of regime complexes) as well as a smooth articulation between the various constituent projects. For that reason, the 15 Early Stage Researchers and their associated supervisors are clustered into four complementary Research & Innovation Work Packages (WP) each one reflecting a given approach to the EU’s capacity to provide purposeful management of regime complexes. WP1-EMERALD analyses the EU’s ’institutional capacity’ to externalize its policies from a causal perspective, WP2-CITRINE studies the EU’s ‘network capacity’ to ensure greater policy coherence in light of social interactions, WP3-RUBIES looks into the EU’s ‘relative capacity’ compared to other regional organisations through comparative heuristic categorisations, and WP4-SAPPHIRE deals with the EU’s ‘Framing Capacity’ to define appropriate behaviour by unpacking underlying socially constructed realities. The two early stage researchers who stay at the GIGA are part of the WP3-Rubies studying Brazil’s and Germany’s capacity to shape the outcomes in regional integration processes and comparing regional security governance in Europe and South-East Asia. GEM-STONES’ research methodology and approach are fully committed to interdisciplinarity. This allows for mutual learning opportunities between individual research projects, whether it is to consolidate a shared analytical perspective within a given Work Package, or to challenge those developed in other WPs.

    Preliminary Findings

    Over the course of 36 months, the GEM-STONES project will deliver individual dissertations and a jointly edited volume; policy briefs and executive briefings; a shared data set and expertise directory as well as further training material such as methods textbook and a manual for highly-skilled job seekers. The GIGA organised and hosted the second methods workshop on concept building and consistency in March 2017, which prepared the early stage researchers theoretical work and positioning and aimed at building a common lexicon by developing a shared list of theoretical concepts and definitions.


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