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The dimensionality of regional integration: Construct validation in the Southeast Asian context

  • Charles W. Kegley and Llewellyn D. Howell


The construction of explanatory theory about the determinants of regional integration is contingent upon our prior ability to measure integration in a typology or set of dimensions as a description and classification of that dependent variable. Previous attempts to conceptually differentiate the types of regional integration are reviewed and found to be contradictory. In order to generate empirically informed estimates about which typifications of integrative behavior are the most powerful and reasonable for theory construction, Joseph Nye's framework was selected for analysis. Construct validation was performed by operationalizing Nye's variables and confronting his scheme with data drawn from the Southeast Asian regional subsystem in order to ascertain the scheme's region-specific applicability. Factor analysis provided partial support for Nye's construct. The evidence derived here suggests that regional integration is a multidimensional phenomenon and that efforts to construct a single, multipurpose index of integration are not warranted. The major dimensions of regional integration emergent were (a) societal interdependence, (b) attitudinal integration, and (c) intergovernmental cooperation. The findings suggest that it is most meaningful to formulate theories in terms of the sources of each distinct type of integration; moreover, it appears that the dimensionality of integration may vary across regions and/or types of national actors.



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1 Landecker, Werner S., “Types of Integration and Their Measurement,” The American Journal of Sociology 56 (01 1951): 332.

2 The failure of the field to seek precise conceptualization and measurement of the integration construct has been noted by many observers, including the following: Nye, Joseph S. Jr, “Comparative Regional Integration,” International Organization 22 (Autumn 1968): 855–80; Haas, Ernst B., “The Study of Regional Integration: Reflections on the Joy and Anguish of Pretheorizing,” in Regional Integration: Theory and Research, Lindberg, Leon N. and Scheingold, Stuart A. eds., (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1971), pp. 344; and Deutsch, Karl W., Political Community at the International Level: Problems of Definition and Measurement (Garden City: Doubleday, 1954).

3 The experience of the social sciences suggests that typology construction may be regarded as the most appropriate first requisite in the scientific study of any phenomena. As Grigg has noted, “Without classification it would be impossible to 1) give names to things, 2) to transmit information, 3) to make inductive generalizations. Classification is a necessary preliminary in most sciences; it is often argued that the state of classification is a measure of the maturity of a science.” See Grigg, David, “The Logic of Regional Systems,” Annals of the Association of American Geographers 55 (09 1965): 5.

4 Since description must precede explanation, it follows that only after the basic types of integration have been isolated and identified by empirical procedures can theory construction proceed. By applying comparative techniques to search for the determinants that explain similarities and differences in these delineated classes of integration, scientific explanations of integrative behavior can be developed.

5 Hughes, Barry B. and Schwartz, John E., “Dimensions of Political Integration and the Experience of the European Community,” International Studies Quarterly 16 (09 1972): 263.

6 For a clear, concise introduction to these issues, the reader is urged to consult Broadfield, A., The Philosophy of Classification (London: Grafton, 1946); McKinney, John C., Constructive Typology and Social Theory (New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1966); and Sokal, R.R. and Sneath, P.H.A., Principles of Numerical Taxonomy (San Francisco: Freeman, 1963).

7 See Nye, “Comparative Regional Integration.”

8 Lindberg, Leon N., “Political Integration as a Multidimensional Phenomenon Requiring Multivariate Measurement,” in Lindberg and Scheingold, pp. 45127.

9 Puchala, Donald J., “International Transactions and Regional Integration,” in Lindberg and Scheingold, p. 128.

10 Bernstein, Robert A., “International Integration: Multidimensional or Unidimensional?Journal of Conflict Resolution, 16 (09 1972): 404.

11 Social Science Department, Bendix Aerospace Systems Division, “Regional Integration in Asia: Summary Papers,” Project Regional Final Report, 06 1972, Vol. V (hereafter referred to as “Bendix”).

12 Hughes and Schwartz, p. 264.

13 Cantori, Louis J. and Spiegel, Steven L., “The International Relations of Regions,” Polity 2 (09 1970): 397425.

14 See Kerlinger, Fred N., Foundations of Behavioral Research, Second Edition (New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1973), pp. 456–78, for a discussion of validation techniques.

15 Landecker in “Types of Integration and their Measurement.”

16 Nye as cited. This formulation has been elaborated in Nye, J.S., Peace in Parts: Integration and Conflict in Regional Organization (Boston: Little, Brown, 1971), pp. 2154.

17 Nye, , “Comparative Regional Integration,” p. 856.

18 Ibid., p. 875.

19 Note that they are similar to the types of integration posited by Landecker in 1951.

20 Nye, , “Comparative Regional Integration,” p. 858.

21 Rummel, Rudolph J., as cited in Young, Robert A., “A Classification of Nations According to Foreign Policy Output,” in Theory and Practice of Events Research, Azar, Edward E. and Ben-Dak, Joseph eds., (New York: Gordon and Breach, 1975), pp. 175–96.

22 This is not to imply that factor analysis is the only appropriate technique for this purpose; indeed, multidimensional scaling, hierarchial clustering, and Guttman scaling analysis would be applicable and informative. Ideally, several techniques should be employed to guard against the possibility that results are artifactual or technique dependent. For example, it is possible that multidimensional scaling may reveal single dimensions in data that factor analysis interprets as multidimensional. While we should be alert to these possibilities, variable measurement procedures and limitations of space restrict our analysis to one method in the present study.

23 Hughes and Schwartz, p. 267; Alker, Hayward R. Jr, “Integration Logics: A Review, Extension, and Critique,” in Lindberg and Scheingold, p. 281.

24 Winch, Robert F., “Heuristic and Empirical Typologies: A Job for Factor Analysis,” American Sociological Review 12 (02 1974): 71.

25 While Nye's description of his category system does not specifically mention all these assumptions, it may be contended (Broadfield; McKinney) that they are inherent in any classificatory scheme and therefore inescabably operative in Nye's construct as well.

26 That is, most of the exploratory work on the dimensionality of integration has been with respect to other regional systems. Bernstein and Hughes and Schwartz are exemplary. Much of the effort has concentrated exclusively on integration in the European context, for obvious reasons. The danger with this focused treatment for the comparativist is, as Thompson has aptly put it, that it prevents us from learning “which forms of behavior are ‘universally’ regional and which are peculiar to specific types of regions.” Thompson, William R., “The Regional Subsystem: A Conceptual Explication and a Propositional Inventory,” International Studies Quarterly 17 (03 1973): 91.

27 E.g., Bendix's Project REGIONAL; Howell, Llewellyn D. Jr, “Regional Accomodation in Southeast Asia: A Study of Attitudinal Compatibility and Distance” (Ph.D. Dissertation, Syracuse University, 1973); Simon, Sheldon W., “East Asia in an Era of Global Transition,” in World Politics, Rosenau, James N., Thompson, Kenneth, and Boyd, Gavin, eds. (New York: Free Press, forthcoming); Charles W. Kegley, Jr., “Chinese Behavior in the Context of the Pattern of Foreign Policy Interactions in Asia: A Quantitative Assessment,” in Advancing and Contending Approaches to the Analysis of Chinese Foreign Relations, Roger L. Dial, ed.; Howell, Llewellyn D. Jr, “Attitudinal Distance in Southeast Asia: Social and Political Ingredients in Integration,” Southeast Asia 3 (Winter 1974), pp. 577605; Park, Tong-Whan, “Peaceful Interactions in Asia: The Delineation of Nation Groups,” The Dimensionality of Nations Project, Research Report No. 32, University of Hawaii, 10 1969.

28 Wilcox, Wayne, Rose, Leo E., and Boyd, Gavin, eds., Asia and the International System (Cambridge, Mass.: Winthrop, 1972), p. v.

29 I.e., when political systems, rather than interactions between states, are the object of comparison, then we probably are dealing with a subject with which valid generalization will be elusive. However, it is the contention here that foreign policy behavior is another matter. See Russett, Bruce M., International Regions and the International System (Chicago: Rand McNally, 1967), for a discussion of this point.

30 Haas, Michael, “The Asian Way: An Operational Code of a Diplomatic Style and Its Political Achievements,” Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the International Studies Association, New York, 03 1973.

31 Gregg, Robert W., “The UN Regional Economic Commissions and Integration in the Underdeveloped Regions,” International Organization 20 (Spring 1966): 208–32.

32 Singh, Lalita Prasad, The Politics of Economic Cooperation in Asia: A Study of Asian International Organizations (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1966); Lall, Arthur, “The Asian Nations and the United Nations,” International Organization 19 (Winter 1965): 728–48.

33 Hellmann, Donald C., “The Emergence of an East Asian International Subsystem,” International Studies Quarterly 13 (12 1969): 421–34.

34 Kegley; Park; Jo, Yung-Hwan, “Regional Cooperation in Southeast Asia and Japan's Role,” The Journal of Politics 30 (08 1968): 730–97; Padelford, Norman J., “Regional Cooperation in the South Pacific,” International Organization 12 (Summer 1959): 380–93.

35 Grant, Maigaret, ed., South Asia Pacific Crisis: National Development and the World Community (New York: Dodd, Meade and Co., 1964).

36 The literature expressing this sentiment is growing voluminous. Recent examples include the following: Levi, Werner, “Political Culture and Integration in Southeast Asia,” in The Challenge of World Politics in South and Southeast Asia, Levi, , ed., (Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall, 1968), pp. 6373; Gordon, Bernard K., “Problems of Regional Cooperation in Southeast Asia,” World Politics 16 (01 1964): 222–53; Brecher, Michael, “International Relations and Asian Studies: The Subordinate State System of Southern Asia,” World Politics 15 (01 1963): 213–35; Shizuo, Maruyama, “Asian Regionalism,” Japan Quarterly 15 (0103 1968): 5361; Cantori, Louis J. and Spiegel, Steven L., “International Regions: A Comparative Approach to Five Subordinate Systems,” International Studies Quarterly 13 (12 1969): 361–80; Gordon, Bernard K., The Dimensions of Conflict in Southeast Asia, (Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, 1966); and Modelski, George, “International Relations and Area Studies: The Case of Southeast Asia,” International Relations (London) 2 (04 1961): 143–55.

37 Gordon, Bernard K., “Common Defense Considerations and Integration in Southeast Asia,” in Regional International Organizations, Tharp, Paul A. Jr, ed., (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1971), p. 247. This article is perhaps the most elequent statement of the appropriateness of conceptualizing Southeast Asia as an integrating regional system.

38 Cobb, Roger W. and Elder, Charles, International Community: A Regional and Global Study (New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1970).

39 Kegley, Charles W. and JrSkinner, Richaid A., “The Case-for-Analysis Problem in the Comparative Study of Foreign Policy,” in In Search of Global Patterns, Rosenau, James N. ed., (New York: Free Press, forthcoming).

40 See Cantori and Spiegel, “The International Relations of Regions,” for a similar definition of the units comprising this system.

41 Bendix, , “Regional Integration in Asia: Data Codebook,” Project REGIONAL, Final Report-Volume III, 06 1972.

42 Howell, “Regional Accomodation in Southeast Asia.” The data may be obtained from ICPR.

43 Nye, , Peace in Parts, pp. 2749.

44 ASEAN has had several of the target states participating as observers in its proceedings (Laos and South Vietnam) and has invited these and others to be members of the organization. The exact confines of the ASEAN grouping as an integrating body are therefore not definitively established.

45 Rummel, Rudolph J., Applied Factor Analysis (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1970), pp. 147–8.

46 Hughes and Schwartz, p. 264.

47 Given the fact that our measures are built on single indicators and grounded on data whose validity is n o less dubious than most social science data collections, the resultant set of hypotheses should be considered suggestive rather than confirmed at this point. Such preliminary evidence should of course be subjected to more rigorous testing in future research.

48 This finding thus challenges Bernstein's conclusion that “all available evidence indicates that international integration is unidimentional, i.e., that all of the ‘subdimensions’ are in fact highly interrelated,” Bernstein, p. 104. The evidence here fails to confirm that conclusion: factor analysis “can establish unidimensionality or disprove it” (Alker, p. 281) and our solution accomplishes the latter.

49 Bernstein, p. 104.

50 Nye, , “Comparative Regional Integration,” p. 859.

51 Alker, Hayward, and JrPuchala, Donald, “Trends in Economic Partnership: The North Atlantic Area, 1928–1963,” in Quantitative International Politics, Singer, J. David ed., (New York: Free Press, 1968), p. 288.

52 Ibid: italics added to indicate that this proposition is a finding of the present study as well.

53 It might be noted that this image receives considerable support in the conventional wisdom literature regarding Asian foreign policy. That literature is replete with suggestions that “in Asia, international trade policy is foreign policy”; the implication is that there is a close linkage between the economic and political conduct of relations among Asian nations.

54 This claim is made in terms of the analytic procedure employed here, factor analysis. Factor analysis allows the investigator to probe his data for the most economical summary of the shared variance in his data; thus, the dimensions that emerge, by virtue of the mathematical model, are exhaustive of the “statistically meaningful” factors inherent in the data set. Of course, the definition of the number of “meaningful dimensions” is partly determined by the criteria selected to terminate factoring.

55 For an explication of this reasoning, see Kegley, Charles W. Jr, “A General Empirical Typology of Foreign Policy Behavior,” Sage Professional Papers in International Studies, vol. 2, 1973 (Beverly Hills: Sage Publications). McKinney also provides an excellent discussion of this point.

56 Nye, , “Comparative Regional Integration,” p. 859. Emphasis added to indicate that this view indicates a finding of the present study.

57 Lest the reader feel that a commitment to such esoterics as the conceptualization and measurement of our dependent variable is unworthy of his energy and patience, it is useful to recall that the history of most other scientific disciplines is frequently marked by prolonged periods of exclusive attention to such “mapping” exercises. Until we can adequately describe and measure our phenomenon, we are relatively impotent in our ability to devise compelling empirical generalizations about its determinants.

58 For a careful presentation of these procedures, see Campbell, Donald T. and Fiske, D.W., “Convergent and Discriminate Validation by the Multi-trait-multi-method,” Psychological Bulletin 56 (03 1959): 81105.

59 This is an important cannon of scientific inquiry. See Popper, Karl, Conjectures and Refutations: The Growth of Scientific Knowledge, (New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1963).

60 Kegley, , “A General Empirical Typology of Foreign Policy Behavior,” p. 9.

61 It is important to understand what conceptual typifications are designed to do if we are to assess them on a sound basis. Nye's conception of the qualitative types of integration heuristically suggests concepts with names for communicating about integration, proposes something about how integrative behavior might be treated, and directs our observations to its presumably most relevant features. The posited types therefore postulate which aspects of integration are the most important and are subject to the most variation. Although the categories do not themselves comprise a theory, they facilitate theory formulation by providing constructs which may be speculatively linked to form hypothetical or theoretical statements (nomothetic generalizations) which if operationalized are amenable to empirical verification. Nye's construct performs these functions, we contend, in a highly useful manner.

62 See Kalleberg, Arthur L., “The Logic of Comparison: A Methodological Note on the Comparative Study of Political Systems,” World Politics 19 (10 1966): 6982, for a forceful and lucid statement of the necessity of scaling in comparative research.

63 This thesis is suggested by Lindberg in “Political Integration as a Multidimensional Phenomenon Requiring Multivariate Measurement.”

1 Charles W. Kegley, Jr. is an Associate Professor in the Department of Government and International Studies and Chairman of the International Studies Program at the University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina. Llewellyn D. Howell, Jr. is an Assistant Professor of International Relations at the School of International Service, The American University, Washington, D.C.


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