Disembedded Openness: Inequalities in European Economic Integration at the Sectoral Level

  • Balazs VedresEmail author
  • Carl Nordlund


The process of European integration resulted in a marked increase in transnational economic flows, yet regional inequalities along many developmental indicators remain. We analyze the unevenness of European economies with respect to the embedding of export sectors in upstream domestic flows and their dependency on dominant export partners. We use the WIOD dataset of sectoral flows for the period of 1995–2011 for 24 European countries. We found that East European economies were significantly more likely to experience increasing unevenness and dependency with increasing openness, while core countries of Europe managed to decrease their unevenness but increased their openness. Nevertheless, by analyzing the trajectories of changes for each country, we see that East European countries are also experiencing a turning point, either switching to a path similar to the core or to a retrograde path with decreasing openness. We analyze our data using pooled time series models and case studies of country trajectories.


Economic integration Network science Political economy World system 


  1. Appelbaum RP, Smith D, Christerson B. Commodity chains and industrial restructuring in the Pacific Rim: garment trade and manufacturing. In: Gereffi G, Korzeniewicz M, editors. Commodity Chains and Global Capitalism. Westport: Praeger Publishers; 1994.Google Scholar
  2. Balassa B. The theory of economic integration. London: Routledge; 1962.Google Scholar
  3. Balassa B. Trade creation and trade diversion in the European common market. Econ J. 1967;77(305):1–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bauer PT. West African trade: a study of competition, oligopoly and monopoly in a changing economy: University Press; 1954.Google Scholar
  5. Bergstrand JH. 2008. How much has European economic integration actually increased members’ trade? Centre for Economic Policy Research, available at (27 November 2015).
  6. Berman BJ. Clientelism and neocolonialism: center-periphery relations and political development in African states. Stud Comp Int Dev. 1974;9(2):3–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bohle D, Greskovits B. Capitalist diversity on Europe’s periphery. New York: Cornell University Press; 2012.Google Scholar
  8. Böwer U, MIchou V, Ungerer C. The puzzle of the missing Greek exports. In: Economic papers 518. Brussels: Directorate-General for Economic and Financial Affairs; 2014.Google Scholar
  9. Bruszt L, Langbein J, Vukov V, Bayram E, Markiewicz O. The developmental impact of the EU integration regime: insights from the automotive industry in Europe’s peripheries. MAXCAP Working Paper Series no. 16. 2015.Google Scholar
  10. Chan S. Cores and peripheries interaction patterns in Asia. Comp Pol Stud. 1982;15(3):314–40.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Condliffe JB. The commerce of nations: Norton; 1950.Google Scholar
  12. Dietzenbacher E, Los B, Stehrer R, Timmer M, de Vries GJ. The construction of world input-output tables in the WIOD project. Econ Syst Res. 2013;25(1):71–98.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Dominguez JI. Mice that do not roar: some aspects of international politics in the peripheries. Int Organ. 1971;25(2):175–208.Google Scholar
  14. Galtung J. A structural theory of imperialism. J Peace Res. 1971;8(2):81–117.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Gereffi G, Korzeniewicz M, editors. Commodity chains and global capitalism. Westport: Praeger Publishers; 1994.Google Scholar
  16. Good PI. Resampling methods: a practical guide to data analysis. Third edition. Boston: Birkhäuser; 2006.Google Scholar
  17. Greskovits B. Leading sectors and the variety of capitalism in Eastern Europe. Actes du GERPISA. 2005;39:113–28.Google Scholar
  18. Hardy J. Cathedrals in the desert? Transnationals, corporate strategy and locality in Wroclaw. Reg Stud. 1998;32(7):639–52.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Heintz J. Low-wage manufacturing and global commodity chains: a model in the unequal exchange tradition. Camb J Econ. 2006;30:507–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Hoen AR. An input-output analysis of European integration. Amsterdam: Elsevier; 2002.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Kirby P. Celtic Tiger in collapse: explaining the weaknesses of the Irish model. New York: Palgrave MacMillan; 2010.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Kirby P, Carmody P. The legacy of Ireland’s economic expansion: geographies of the Celtic Tiger. New York: Routledge; 2010.Google Scholar
  23. Krugman P. Geography and trade. Cambridge: MIT Press; 1991.Google Scholar
  24. Maya-Ambía J., C. 2011. Constructing agro-industrial clusters or disembedding of the territory? Lessons from Sinaloa as the leading horticultural export-oriented region of Mexico. Open Geogr J, 4:29–44.Google Scholar
  25. Meier GM, Baldwin RE. Economic development: theory, history, policy: John Wiley & Sons; 1957.Google Scholar
  26. Nordlund C. Social ecography: international trade, network analysis, and an Emmanuelian conceptualization of ecological unequal exchange. Lund: Lund university; 2010.Google Scholar
  27. Oman CP, Wignaraja G. The postwar evolution of development thinking. Houndmills & London: Macmillan, St. Martin’s & OECD Development Centre; 1991.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Porter ME. Competitive advantage: creating and sustaining superior performance. New York: Free press; 1985.Google Scholar
  29. Singer HW. Dualism revisited: a new approach to the problems of the dual society in developing countries. J Dev Stud. 1970;17(1):60–75.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. So AY. Social change and development: modernization, dependency and world-system theories. California: Sage publications; 1990.Google Scholar
  31. Timmer M (ed). 2012. The world input-output database (WIOD): contents, sources and methods. Available at:
  32. Timmer MP, Dietzenbacher E, Los B, Stehrer R, de Vries GJ. An illustrated user guide to the world input-output database: the case of global automotive production. Rev Int Econ. 2015;23:575–605.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Wallerstein I, Hopkins T. Commodity chains in the world prior to 1800. In: Wallerstein I, editor. The Essential Wallerstein. New York: New Press; 2000 [1986]. [Orig. publ. in Review, 1986, 10: 157–170].Google Scholar
  34. Yanikkaya H. Trade openness and economic growth: a cross-country empirical investigation. J Dev Econ. 2003;72:57–89.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Network ScienceCentral European UniversityBudapestHungary
  2. 2.Institute for Analytical SociologyLinköping UniversityLinköpingSweden
  3. 3.Department of Economic HistoryLund UniversityLundSweden

Personalised recommendations