Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name


Organizational Unit

Josef Korbel School of International Studies, International Studies

First Advisor

Martin Rhodes, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Aaron Schneider

Third Advisor

Oliver Kaplan


Latin America, Political economy, Regionalism, Regional organization


Regional organizations have developed into important global actors as they negotiate inter-regional trade agreements, regulate economic policies, and develop international security communities. States have much to gain from such regional cooperation efforts particularly in emerging regions such as Latin America. Such gains can include increased trade and economic relations, enhanced security, attracting external investment, and increasing bargaining power at the international level. With such gains to be had, one might expect states in these regions to regularly cooperate in order to achieve their common interests. However, this is clearly not always the case. Latin America has struggled for decades with an ebb and flow of regional cooperation schemes. Why do we see variation in levels of regional cooperation in Latin America? More specifically, given the potential gains from regional cooperation, why do we see periods of defection within these organizations?

Historical cases within the Latin America suggest that regional cooperation suffers under conditions of unequal gains. Asymmetrical distribution of economic gains from cooperation efforts hinder further integration and increase the chance a state will defect from the group's arrangements. This study uses a mixed methods approach to explore the impact of economic asymmetry on regional cooperation in Latin America. Beginning with a large-N statistical analysis utilizing a cross-nested model to capture variance within and between organizations, it finds evidence that asymmetric distribution of investment and trade hinders political indicators of cooperation. Additional in-depth case analysis of the Andean Community and Mercosur further highlight these trends through showing country-specific data and diplomatic statements during periods of major defection within the groups. Based on these findings, this study demonstrates the importance of the distribution of gains expected from regional cooperation efforts as it concludes that increasing economic asymmetry within a region leads to lower overall cooperation among an organization's member-states.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Amaleia E. Kolovos


Received from ProQuest

File Format




File Size

231 p.


International relations