Networks of Cross-border non-State Actors: The Role of Social Capital in Regional Integration

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This paper attempts to show that trust-based networks of cross-border grassroots non-State actors augment conventional regional integration. The paper examines three assumptions vis-à-vis regional integration: (a) networks of grassroots non-State actors connect communities that share common backgrounds, histories and cultures. Face-to-face interactions characterize relationships in such networks; (b) the interactions in the networks generate a trust that stabilizes the networks and contribute to network efficiency; and (c) where these networks straddle State boundaries, they integrate the economies that host the communities of actors in the networks and thus enhance conventional regional integration. The paper uses social capital to illustrate these assumptions and fulfill its aim of establishing whether growth triangles augment conventional regional integration. It also relies on historical, socioeconomic and political accounts to illustrate the contribution of trust-based networks to regional integration.