The Development Policy Centre at the Australian National University wants to see more rigorous scrutiny of attempts to pool resources in the Pacific.
Pooling is a key aspect of the Pacific Plan, the region's blue print for closer links, but to date there have been few successes.
The Plan is being reviewed and Pacific leaders gather in the Cook Islands in May to consider a revamped document.
A researcher at the Development Policy Centre, Matthew Dornan, says, historically, regional bodies delivered services, for instance in transport, with mixed results.
But he says a better approach, which should be reflected in the new plan, is for the regional body to provide advice to national bodies, rather than the services themselves.
"That sort of advice isn't provided at short notice, particularly in relation to contract negotiation, so I think those are the sort of areas we should be looking at in relation to regional service delivery. We shouldn't be looking at service provision in itself."
Matthew Dornan of the Australian National University