My research addresses how new global governance arrangements reconstruct global inequalities and transform political authority. I am particularly interested in how states, firms and civil society actors compete and cooperate to translate their economic power into authority over legitimate, enforceable rules on the global scale.
I have recently completed a book manuscript titled Global Rivalries: Standards Wars and the Transnational Cotton Trade, which is forthcoming in 2013 at the University of Chicago Press. I explore the current era as one characterized by hegemonic struggles over whose rules will govern global
economic integration. Historically, Western firms and states have largely set
the rules for global trade. But today they face new challenges to the legitimacy of their rules in an increasingly Asia-centered economy. Negotiations
at the World Trade Organization (WTO) are at a stalemate as the U.S. struggles
to find common ground with China, India and Brazil and global social movements call
for trade rules that account for social and environmental justice. One might
expect this crisis to bring isolationism, but instead it is triggering new forms of cooperation.
We see the rapid construction of global governance networks that encourage
private, state and civil society actors to work together in tackling a wide
range of issues, from the harmonization of quality standards to the
enforceability of contracts across borders. This
transnational cooperation amid a crisis of Western legitimacy raises critical
questions. Who makes the rules in global governance networks? How do powerful actors
construct governance institutions that are accepted as legitimate and are thus
enforceable? Why do the emerging non-Western corporate elite and their state
allies, as well as more marginalized firms and states, accept or reject the
authority of global governance networks? These questions go to the heart of
what constitutes institutional legitimacy in the contemporary global economy. They
are the key issues I explore in Global Rivalries.
In other research, I have examined the implications of neoliberal restructuring on local economic development in Wisconsin and Saskatchewan.
In the Spring of 2011, I was a visiting scholar at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies in Cologne, Germany. I was participating the Working Group on Institution-Building Across Borders, directed by Dr. Sigrid Quack.
In press. Global Rivalries: Standards Wars and the Transnational Cotton Trade. University of Chicago Press.
Under review. (with Adam Slez) Chinese Ascendancy and the Political Construction of the Global Cotton Market.
Under review. The Distributive Implications of Qualification: From Collective to Competitive Qualification Strategies in the Global Cotton Trade.
Forthcoming. Institutional Mobility and Mutation in the Global Capitalist System: A Neo-Polanyian Analysis of the Transnational Cotton Trade, 1870-1930. Environment and Planning A, Special Issue on Neo-Polanyian Geographies.
2012. Scientized Politics and Global Governance in the Cotton Trade. Review of International Political Economy 19(5):895-917.
2011. Global Governance as Contested Institution-Building: Transnational Corporations, China and Contract Rules in the Cotton Trade. Politics & Society, 39(1):3-39.
2008. Toward a New Theory of Change: Socio-Natural Regimes and the Historical Development of the Cotton Textiles Commodity Chain. Review: A Journal of the Fernand Braudel Center, XXXI(1). PDF
2008. The Contradictions of Uneven Development for States and Firms:Capital and State Rescaling in Peripheral Regions. Journal of Rural Studies, 24:291-303. PDF
2007. From Global Cities to the Lands’ End: The Relocation of Corporate Headquarters and the New Company Towns of Rural America. Qualitative Sociology, 30(1):21-40. PDF
2006. Globalizing Firms and Small Communities: The Apparel Industry’s Changing Connections to Rural Labor Markets. Rural Sociology, 71(2):281-310. (with Jane L. Collins) PDF
2006. Social Cohesion, Neoliberalism and the Entrepreneurial Community in Rural Saskatchewan. The American Behavioral Scientist, 50:206-225. (with JoAnn Jaffe) PDF
2005. Social Cohesion: Theory or Politics? Evidence from Studies of Six Saskatchewan Rural Communities under Neoliberalism. Prairie Forum 30(2):229-252. (with JoAnn Jaffe) PDF
2004. “Now every farm has its own tomcat”: New Dynamics in Social Cohesion and Cleavage in an Agriculturally Based Community in Rural Saskatchewan. Prairie Forum, 29(2):317-328. (with JoAnn Jaffe) PDF