Tim Büthe

Department of Political Science
Duke University

140 Science Drive (Gross Hall)
Mail Code 90204
Duke University
Durham, NC 27708
Ph: (+1) 919-660-4365

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I am an Associate Professor of Political Science and Public Policy at Duke University, as well as a Senior Fellow of the Duke Rethinking Regulation Project at the Kenan Institute for Ethics.

My teaching and research focuses on the role of institutions in the international and comparative political economy.  I am interested, above all, in how institutions enable and constrain actors, how domestic and international institutions interact, and why institutions change or persist.  Substantively, most of my research focuses on regulatory politics in the global economy.  Here, one major line of research examines the causes and consequences of delegating regulatory authority to non-state and often private actors.  My current research focuses mostly on the effect of economic globalization on competition policy (antitrust enforcement, merger control, and the regulation of government subsidies). My other work focuses on business partisanship, foreign direct investment by multinational corporations, and the allocation of foreign aid by humanitarian and development NGOs.

Much of my research has focused on regulatory politics and specifically what I call global private politics.  My book, New Global Rulers: The Privatization of Regulation in the World Economy (Princeton University Press, 2011), for example, examines the deeply political nature of setting seemingly technical standards for international financial and product markets in the the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB), the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC).  The book develops a new analytical approach to the interaction of domestic and international institutions (institutional complementarity theory) in order to explain why some win and others lose in the simultaneous internationalization and privatization of rule-making.  The empirical analyses are based on multi-country, multi-industry business surveys, which I have directed as co-principal investigator of the International Standards Project.  A recent volume on Private Regulation in the Global Economy, which I guest-edited as a special issue of Business & Politics, examines more broadly who demands transnational rules for global markets and why, why some private actors supply such rules, and why the targets of those rules (often) comply.  This and related research on global private politics is described in greater detail here.

Among my other work, my research on business partisanship demonstrates that business firms have partisan political preferences (not just preferences over specific policies) and examines how domestic political-economic institutions condition the effect of economic globalization on business partisanship.  My work on the institutional development of competition policy seeks to explain how the EU Commission's Directorate General for Competition became one of the most powerful regulatory agencies in the global economy, even though the most powerful EU member states wanted only weak (if any) supranational antitrust enforcement and were explicitly opposed to the supranational regulation of mergers.  An extension of this work examines the role of antitrust enforcement and merger regulation (laws and practices) in the global trade regime.  My research on FDI analyzes how formal institutions (bilateral investment treaties and international trade agreements) constrain governments and facilitate the flow of foreign direct investment into developing countries.  My research on private foreign aid, beyond its intrinsic importance, focuses on the informal institutions of humanitarian and development NGOs to advance our understanding of how and why outcomes differ when decision-making over a traditional foreign policy issue is delegated to non-governmental (private) organizations.

My work has appeared or is forthcoming in the American Political Science Review, the American Journal of Political Science, International Organization, World Politics, Law & Contemporary Problems, Governance, and other journals, as well as numerous edited volumes.  I serve on the faculty advisory board of the Rethinking Regulation Project at Duke's Kenan Institute for Ethics.  From August 2007 through July 2009, I was a Research Fellow in the Robert-Wood-Johnson Foundation's Scholars in Health Policy Research Program at the University of California, Berkeley/UCSF.


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last updated August 2014