This question attempts to find out the best theory and research-aligned article from the pool of literature reviewed. The articles reviewed in this section are that of Richard Gibb (2009), Gedaa and Kebret (2008), and Simon (2010) on regional integration in Africa. This essay traces the article that has the best theoretical and research alignment.
Of the three articles, the article written by Gibbs has the best theory and research alignment. The article by Gedaa and Kebret (2008) analyses the researched material with no linking to the theory. They try to find the limitations of the integration process and the theoretical contention that can provide a suitable approach for African integration. The theory is related to bilateral cooperation and the lacking of them. They do not enumerate the theoretical lacking of the very premise of theoretical assumptions that lead to the formulation of the integration model. They use a case study methodology to enumerate their research. The second article by Simons (2010) analyzes the performance of the southern regional bloc in Africa. It analyses present data and literature to demonstrate how the integration is working. However, it does not show the theoretical background that has led to the failure of the integration.
The third article on African regional integration by Gibb (2009) demonstrates the theoretical reasons for the failure of African integration. He points out the present conditions in Africa and the way they are not conducive for the application of the traditional theoretical models in the African continent. They undertook a qualitative study of the literature and the theory that established a disconnect between the two in the case of African integration. It is the only article that shows that the neo-economic model used for regional integration in the western countries that are used for implementing integration models in Africa is inadequate because the underlying assumptions of these models are refuted by the political, social, and economic conditions in Africa.
The article studies for the journal critique section is by Richard Gibb titled Regional Integration and Africa’s Development Trajectory: meta-theory, expectations, and reality (Gibb, 2009). The introduction to the article discusses the increasing turn towards regionalism and economic regional integration taking place in most of the continents, predominantly Europe, North America, Asia, etc. These trade blocs are supposed to be points of a melting pot of political and economic development. However, the author believes that this regional integration and its implications in the developing regions have not been adequately studied. However, this regionalism and its effect on development, though has been discussed, has been mostly Eurocentric. Especially, African regionalism has been neglected in the theoretical debate of regionalism and the relationship between regionalism and its effect on development needs to be explored. Through this point, the author points out that the formula of regionalism that is applied in African countries is mostly Western. However, the credibility of such an application is questionable. Therefore, the paper put forth by Gibb (2009) argues that the application of the Western regionalization formula in sub-Saharan Africa is ‘highly questionable’. As Gibbs points out, “applying Western conceptions of regionalism to sub-Saharan Africa exposes a fallacy of transposition.” (2009, p. 702) The introduction to the article is concise and provides adequate background to generate the question to be studied (Maxwell, 2005; Miles & Huberman, 1994; Patton, 2002; Creswell, 2007). It puts forth the flaws in previous researches or the lack of it and then formulates the question to be studied.
The article then describes the background to the regional integration process in Africa. This section points out that regional integration in Africa is an intuitive idea as the continent’s colonial history had created extremely fragmented economic and political ideologies. This section shows that there is a high degree of consensus among regions to have political and economic integration. The author quotes an excerpt from the African Development Bank study that regional integration in Africa is a “matter of survival” (Gibb, 2009, p. 704). This section then describes the bad economic state of the African countries compared to other countries. This points out that even when Africa is united together, it will not emerge as an economic force, as its combined GDP for the whole of Africa was less than that of Belgium that is less than 1% the size of Africa (Gibb, 2009). Gibbs believes that the use of GDP as the measure of success of regional integration is not correct. However, he contends that regional integration is the key to solving the economic problems of Africa. This section on African regionalism, therefore, enumerates the rationale and need behind regional integration in the continent.
The section on theoretical description argument behind the integration of African economies is presented in the article. The article first points out that all attempts in integrating the African economies for the last 50 years have been of “unbroken failure”. The author points out the vast amount of literature that discusses the reason behind the failure of the regional integration agreements in African. From this, he presents a few empirical questions. The first question that arises is the way African regionalism is different from Western regionalism. The second question addresses the point if there are structural causes that lead to the failure of regionalism in Africa. The third question asked the reason for the requirement of an integrated Africa. In addition, what are the reasons that have led to the continuous failure of the integration process in Africa? It also questioned who was at loss due to the failure of the integration process. This section shows that the discussion on African regionalism has not shown the effect of regionalism rather has constantly dwelt on policy-related issues and meta-theories that had tried to explain European integration. The literature review of previous literature and theory on African regionalism shows that the basic content was putting forward a neoclassical economic (mostly market integration, developmental activity, and an open regional bloc) point of view of integration while neglecting the non-economic objectives that are the underpinnings of the majority of the agreements in the continent. Further, Gibbs points out that the existing literature on integration on sub-African integration studies how the cooperation works rather than showing the ratio behind these co-operations. Gibbs’s literature review showed that the market integration theory is predominant in explaining integration efforts in Africa. The literature review that then followed discussed each research on African integration and all were properly cited with endnotes. Further, the author undertakes a proper discussion of the researches in the literature review of the theoretical background of integration in Africa and points out the drawbacks and the areas lacking in the previous analysis. The literature review points out that it is important to understand the underpinning of a market-led integration i.e. whether it will be trade creating or trade diverting regionalism, will have a huge impact on the consequences of the integration process.
Then the literature review moves ahead to discuss existing literature on market integration. It enumerates the advantages of incorporating the trade liberalization model in a regional context. The author here argues that the traditional market integration literature is strongly rooted in the regional integration followed in Europe and the underlying assumption to the model is all nation-states are motivated by economic considerations for the integration to take place. The review puts forth the use of the market in integration in southern Africa through the 1991 Abuja Treaty. The review then analyses the treaty and its goals. Then the section goes on to enumerate the plants of the four different regional integration treaties that evolved in Africa and their overlapping nature. Then the article goes on to analyze the market integration in Africa and its outcomes as has been studied in different integration processes. The analysis portion talks of the integration in Africa if the market-led integration model is an appropriate method to follow the integration process.
The article then moves on to the discussion of the state of African states. The analysis shows that the dysfunctional nature of an African state compared to the western countries is mostly imagined. The article through its research points out that the traditional methods of evaluating integration and its success fails to provide proper evaluation for the African states. The article goes ahead to demonstrate that it is the economic failure of the regions that led to the ultimate failure of the regionalization effort in Africa rather than it is the lack of political intent of the ruling regimes in the regions that lead to the failure.
In the conclusion to the article Gibbs points out that, the market integration model is “hegemonic on the African continent” and is structurally inappropriate. The conclusion again summarizes the aim of the article and all that it has achieved. The conclusion discusses the hindrances that lead to the failure of regional integration in the African states.
The article by Gibbs uses grounded theory to enumerate the reasons for the failure of integration in Africa. The reasons are enumerated using the present state of integration in Africa, literature on African integration, and the economic and political model that are adopted and used in the African context to enhance regional integration. Through the discussion of the literature and the theory, Gibbs enumerates the theory, literature, and the reason that relate to the failure of African regional integration.
I believe that writing research for articles is important, as they are the synopsis and the communication point of one’s research. For my qualitative research, I intend to bring forth research that has an equally balanced theory and primary research in it. It should be rich with current data on the topic taking the space for primary data as well as a rich theoretical base to support the analysis section. My research article would be divided into four sections consisting of the introduction, the literature review, the methodology, and the discussion of the research questions with a consistent parody between the theory and research. The research will be done based on the relationship established between the research and the theory.
Creswell, J. W. (2007). Qualitative inquiry & research design: choosing among five approaches. London: Sage.
Gedaa, A., & Kebret, H. (2008). Regional Economic Integration in Africa: A Review of Problems and Prospects with a Case Study of COMESA. Journal of African Economy, 17 (3) , 357-394.
Gibb, R. (2009). Regional Integration and Africa’s Development Trajectory: meta-theory, expectations and reality. Third World Quarterly, 30(4) , 701-721.
Maxwell, J. A. (2005). Qualitative research design: an interactive approach. London: Sage.
Miles, M. B., & Huberman, A. M. (1994). Qualitative data analysis: an expanded sourcebook. London: Sage.
Patton, M. Q. (2002). Qualitative research and evaluation methods. London: Sage.
Simon, D. (2010). The changing context for regional integration in southern Africa: how adaptive are its regional institutions? South African Geographical Journal, 92(2) , 96-104.