Regional organizations are widely regarded as building blocks of a multilateral order. But this view ignores the fact that regional organizations vary in their contribution to multilateralism. This article therefore adds to Dent's established concept of "multilateral utility" the concept of "hedging utility" which I claim better captures the behaviour of many non-Western regional organizations including the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). In the theory-guided part the article develops six indicators to distinguish the two types of regional organizations: level of institutionalization, governance costs, nesting, agenda-setting, norm entrepreneurship and mode of interaction. Based on these categories, the article examines ASEAN's role as a contributor to a multilateral order. The findings illustrate that indeed "hedging utility" rather than "multilateral utility" better describes ASEAN's agency in shaping international order. The hedging concept resonates well with elite notions of Southeast Asian political culture and also captures the institutional balancing dimension of ASEAN's (security) policies.


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 83-112
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.