The question of the significance of ASEAN is an important one. Stubbs' observation that different standards have been used to assess the organization is right to the point. This article critically discusses the merits of Stubbs approach and his findings. Our response argues that the binary discussion about ASEAN’s relevance should be replaced by more productive and progressive lines of scientific inquiry, since these questions hardly ever produce the knock-out evidence needed to discard one theory. The more interesting research takes place within paradigms. In the case of institutionalism, this is for example the research program of the design of international institutions. It is here that better data has recently become available, and that some questions that have triggered lively debates on ASEAN can now be answered. We then present select results of a large-N project comparing regional organizations with a view of what we have learned about ASEAN.