Realism, institutionalism, and the asian economic crisis

Amitav Acharya

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71 Scopus citations


The Asian economic crisis has brought into sharp focus competing visions of Asian regional order put forward by Realism and Institutionalism. In the early 1990s, Institutionalism challenged the traditional dominance of the Realist paradigm in the region. Now, it has been put on the defensive. The Asian crisis has rekindled inter-state disputes, reduced the credibility of multilateral bodies such as ASEAN, APEC and the ARF, and may be reshaping perceptions of the regional balance of power. It has underscored the relative salience of great power leadership vis-à-vis small power-led co-operative ventures. But this article sees the Asian crisis as a doubleedged sword. While raising doubts about Institutionalism, it does not enhance the credibility of Realist prescriptions for regional order based on balance of power frameworks. Rather, a plethora of developments has opened up new possibilities for an Institutionalist reordering of the Asia-Pacific region.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-29
Number of pages29
JournalContemporary Southeast Asia
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 1999

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 1999 Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore.


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