A lacuna in the networked global economy and private regulatory authority literatures-hence the main theoretical contribution of this article-involves situations where regulatory authority is ceded or outsourced to nonstate business actors that, in addition to their commercial mission, espouse and actually integrate their profit motive with political and economic missions that can enhance or undermine regional integration effectiveness. Such identity-based, dual-mission regional business actors are more likely to promote regional economic integration than their foreign counterparts because these firms often define the region as the centerpiece of their investment decisions. The melding of their "region-centricity" with the profit motive may suggest the capacity of states and nonstate actors to "tame" or "regionalize" globalization or even challenge the existing global order. The empirical evidence is drawn from an unlikely source, that is, cross-border, dual-mission regional banks in West Africa to whom governments and INGOs have ceded or "outsourced" critical central banking regulatory authority, empowering or enabling them to (i) act as regional development banks through public-private partnerships; (ii) create and regulate financial instruments as surrogate common currency and regional payments systems; and (iii) cross-border supervision of regional bank subsidiaries and branches. Expanded private authority of regional banks is creating putative region-wide norms of financial integration and behavioral changes among banks and other sectors and governments while amplifying the limits of private-sector-led financial integration. The study fills a gap in the comparative regionalism literature that continues to neglect, misidentify, or undervalue the African experience.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Geography, Planning and Development
- Political Science and International Relations