Regional Governance

The Research Unit on Regional Governance carries out research and organises public events regarding key challenges of regional governance, focusing on the European Union (EU) and Asia. It seeks to explore and critically examine regional governance in a comparative and transnational perspective.

It also has a strong teaching-research nexus, with the teaching of a subject within the Master in International Relations on Comparative Regional Governance, awarded a Jean Monnet Module award from the EU.

Regional Governance encompasses three themes:

1. Comparative regionalism;

2. Interregionalism;

3. Shared Complex Challenges across Europe and Asia.

The Research Unit seeks to work collaboratively with colleagues across the University of Melbourne, within Australia and in universities and centres throughout the world. The Research Unit seeks to bring together a multidisciplinary group of scholars with significant expertise in their respective fields and with considerable experience in dynamic and interactive collaborative research. It also welcomes young scholars commencing their careers and PhD students.

The Research Unit on Regional Governance holds a series of events on the EU and regional governance within the EU Centre on Shared Complex Challenges and collaboratively with other units within the University and Australia. It is open to organising workshops and other events with colleagues in Europe on key themes.

The EU Centre will hold a major international conference, Rethinking governance in an era of global insecurities, regional tensions and rising nationalism in Melbourne, 17 – 19 July 2017. We are now accepting panels and papers until 20 February 2017. See Flyer for more information and how to submit proposals.

Themes of the Research Unit on Regional Governance:

Comparing regional integration and regionalism in Europe and Asia has become more frequent in recent years, as indeed has the broader study of comparative regionalism. In addition, scholars are beginning to focus attention on comparative study of meso-level phenomena in regions and regionalism. This research theme draws on and conduct research devoted to the elaboration of suitable terminology and methods for comparison, as well as macro-level comparative analysis of institutions and architecture

Research in this area includes:

a. Drivers of regionalism and integration in Europe and Asia

The debates regarding what and who constitute drivers are the focus of recent scholarly analysis. These scholarly analyses assess: historical contexts; intellectual initiators; crisis; external threats; institutions; multilateralism; common problems; ideas and narratives all as drivers, or on occasion, as inhibitors of regionalism and integration in Asia and Europe. This also takes alternative views on what drives regionalism, such as multilateral forums such as the UN or the experiences and promotion of other regions. Exogenous factors, including other regions or multilateralism or crisis or threat perception are crucial elements in our analysis of drivers. Leadership and core states are also critically examined. Material, ideational and normative factors are all examined and assessed comparatively. See

b. Awkward partners in regionalism

This research theme examines the issue of ‘awkward states’ in regional organisations. Why is it that several regions contain states which seem always, or at least regularly, to find themselves on the margins of the region, despite what may be long periods of formal membership and significant structural adjustment to be part of the region in question? Could it be that situations previously considered unique if considered through the lens of an area specialism, may now appear more capable of consideration from a fresh perspective as the fruit of comparative study? In other words, if globalisation impacts structurally upon the unit of analysis of comparative politics scholars – nation states – then such scholars and those of international relations can and should enter into fruitful dialogue.  See article. Australia in the Asia Pacific and the UK’s relationship with the European Union are increasingly being examined comparatively.

c. Policies and Institutional structures, architectures, legal integration

There is a significant difference between European integration and Asian regionalism in terms of institutions, norms and practices, yet each is characterised by trade cooperation and on-going attempts to develop closer collaboration among states. There are different institutional and architectural designs and outcomes, legal systems and structures. These are examined in a comparative context in this research theme.

d. Norms and Governance

This research theme encompasses global governance and regional norms and structures; the diffusion of norms and values; norms entrepreneurship and comparative aspects on Normative Power Europe. Human rights are also featured here. It also assesses the debates regarding the EU as a putative model or reference point for ASEAN and other regional bodies.

e. Security

This research theme explores the changing nature of security challenges in Europe and Asia. It encompasses non-traditional challenges such as climate change, energy; food security; water security; immigration and people movements; natural disasters; humanitarian crises; civilian crisis-management. Other security challenges that will also be explored include maritime and territorial conflict; terrorism and extremism.

These issues are also examined in the Master of International Relations subject at the University that is coordinated by Prof Philomena Murray and Dr Margherita Matera: POLS90043 Comparative Regional Governance. This subject broadens the analysis to cover the EU, the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), the African Union (AU) and Mercosur.

EU-ASEAN relations: norms, trade, connectivity, development aid and regional architectures

This research theme examines EU-ASEAN relations from a number of perspectives, including norms, trade, connectivity, development aid and regional architectures. It examines the development of the relationship of the EU and ASEAN as it has moved from a development aid focus to trade, norms diffusion and non-traditional security cooperation. The issue of EU assistance to ASEAN regional integration is critically assessed.

These issues are also examined in the Master of International Relations subject at the University that is coordinated by Prof Philomena Murray: POLS90017 Europe and Asia: Competing Hegemons?

Theme 3: Common Challenges across Regions: Europe and Asia

• The governance of traditional and non-traditional security problems in Europe and the Asia Pacific

• Food security

• Trade governance and regulatory regionalism

• Refugees – regional solutions?

• Corruption

• Strategic partnerships

• The EU and Australia in the Asia Pacific region.

• Democracy, rights and civil society

• Crises of governance in Europe and Asia

• Brexit

• Regional Design and architecture

Research Director


Professor Philomena Murray

Professor Philomena Murray is Jean Monnet Chair ad personam in the School of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Melbourne. She received a national Carrick (Australian Learning and Teaching Council) Citation for Outstanding Contribution to Student Learning for leadership in national and international EU curriculum development. She is an assessor for the Australian Research Council and European Research Council. She holds honorary positions at Trinity College Dublin; the College of Europe, Bruges; United Nations University Institute for Comparative Regional Integration Studies: the University of Canterbury NCRE and the Free University of Berlin. She serves on the Board of the International Political Science Association Research Committee on European Unification. Her research interests are in comparative regional governance; EU-Australia relations and EU-Asia relations.

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The EU Centre on Shared Complex Challenges is co-funded by the European Commission and The University of Melbourne.