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Transnational Legal Process and State Change


Gregory Shaffer is Melvin C. Steen Professor of Law at the University of Minnesota Law School. He can be reached at He wishes to thank for their comments Bobby Ahdieh, William Alford, Karen Alter, Elizabeth Boyle, Jeffrey Dunoff, Bryant Garth, Tom Ginsburg, Terence Halliday, Minzee Kim, Heinz Klug, Bronwen Morgan, Leigh Payne, Judith Resnik, Brian Tamanaha, Lucie White, the participants at workshops at Arizona State, Harvard, the University of Minnesota and the University of Wisconsin, panels for the Transnational Legal Orders CRN in 2009 and 2010 at the Law and Society Association annual meetings, panels at the Society for the Advancement of Socio-Economics and the Society of International Economic Law meetings in 2010, and three anonymous reviewers.


This article applies a sociolegal approach to the study of transnational legal processes and their effects within countries. First, we clarify the concepts of transnational law, transnational legal process, and transnational legal order. Second, we provide a typology of five dimensions of state change that we can assess empirically. Third, we explain the factors that determine the variable effects of transnational legal processes and organize these factors into three clusters. Fourth, we introduce four empirical studies of transnational legal processes' differential effects in five regulatory areas in Asia, Africa, and South America that illustrate these points. Together, they provide a guide of how to study the interaction of transnational and national legal processes, and the extent and limits of transnational legal processes' effects.