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Regional organizations (ROs) have been created across the globe. In the period between 1945 and 2015, there is a total of 76 ROs, which on average are equipped with competencies in around 11 different policy areas. There are two trends. First, both the number of ROs states have joined increases sharply over time as do the number of policy competencies states delegate to ROs. Second, not all states are equally inclined to nurture regional integration. To shed light on these patterns, this paper adopts a state-centered perspective. Based on rationalist international relations and regional cooperation theories, it develops hypotheses on state motives to join ROs and to delegate policy competencies to them. The analysis reveals several interesting insights: First, powerful states are proponents for regional integration. They join ROs, as they can be used as arenas or means to further national interests. Second, trade is also an important incentive. The stronger the trade interests of states are, the more ROs they become members of and the more policy competencies they equip their ROs with. Third, authoritarian states are less inclined to nurture regional integration and join ROs, since they might place limitations on governmental leeway in the future.
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