The primary objective of this line of research is to advance our understanding of competition law and its enforcement in the context of economic globalization.  The major conceptual models or "schools of thought" that have shaped antitrust/competition law and its enforcement over the past century—structuralism, the Chicago school, the new industrial organization approach, and ordo-liberalism—implicitly or explicitly assume a closed economy. Yet, over the last half century, advanced industrialized countries (and many developing countries) have increasingly opened their markets to foreign producers of goods and services—and opportunities to sell in foreign, increasingly global markets have become more important to an ever larger share of their domestic producers.  How should we think about antitrust in such an open economy?  What is the effect of economic openness, and especially trade openness, on antitrust law and enforcement?  Our research aims to address these questions both theoretically and empirically.
The Critical Importance of Market Competition
Competition plays a central role in any capitalist market economy.  Virtually all the benefits attributed to a market economy by Adam Smith, Schumpeter, Hayek, and others, depend upon it: Market competition brings supply and demand into a balance that maximizes aggregate material well-being; it fosters efficiency, stimulates innovation, safeguards freedom, etc.  Competition law thus seeks to bring the actual operation of markets more closely in line with the ideal type where neither buyers nor sellers can manipulate the market price to their benefits.  Making markets "work" in this sense requires an authority that is external to the market in order to constrain the use of market power, since market power can be used to extract rents or redistribute the benefits of the market economy, as Adam Smith famously warned in the Wealth of Nations: "People of the same trade seldom meet ... [without that] the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices."  Such use of public authority to constrain or block private actors' exercise of market power, however, is inherently conflictual and deeply political.
Trade economists (until recently the only ones to have addressed this relationship between economic openness and competition policy systematically) have traditionally viewed trade openness as a substitute for antitrust regulation:  Trade openness lowers the barriers to entry into product markets, thus exposing domestic producers who collude or use their market power to inflate prices to foreign competitors, which will undercut anticompetitive practices.  Trade openness, therefore, makes antitrust law and enforcement superfluous, according to this view.
Other scholars have argued instead that trade and antitrust are complements, but in a sinister way.  According to this view, governments enact or enforce antitrust laws strategically—to improve their countries’ terms of trade or protect domestic firms from foreign competition, thus undermining the benefits of trade liberalization.  In other words, antitrust may be a substitute for tariffs and other means of trade protectionism, rather than trade being a substitute for antitrust law.  This has prompted a lively debate among scholars and practitioners over the need for an international antitrust regime, possibly in the context of the WTO.
To advance the theoretical debate, I have (partly in joint work with Anu Bradford) put forth a critique the logic of existing theoretical arguments and developed an alternative analytical framework based on a more nuanced understanding of the political context of antitrust enforcement, emphasizing that firms in an open economy can be transnational political—rather than purely domestic or purely economic—actors.  One important element of this approach is the insight that trade liberalization, by constraining governments' ability to provide "public protection" through tariffs and traditional non-tariff barriers to trade, increases firms' incentives and opportunities to provide "private protection" for themselves through transnational anti-competitive behavior.  Trade liberalization therefore should lead to an increase in anti-competitive transnational mergers, transnational cartels and other forms of transnational collusion.  At the same time, there is no reason to think that governments are ignorant of such developments.  To the extent that a trade-induced increase in anti-competitive activity is indeed anticipated or observed by governments, we might see open trade lead to more comprehensive antitrust laws and more vigorous enforcement of those laws, including increased monitoring of international markets and transgovernmental regulatory cooperation.  I therefore posit trade and antitrust as genuine (as opposed to sinister) complements, which offers a different way to think about the relationship between trade and antitrust theoretically—with important implications for public policy, which I explore as part of this project.
Very importantly, this resaerch also seek to advance our understanding of the politics and economics of antitrust law (and its enforcement) through empirical analyses.  The existing literature on the international dimension of competition policy is very short on systematic empirical analyses.  A small number of prominent (and thereof probably not representative) cases of antitrust violations with an international dimension have been closely examined, and most work on the international dimension of antitrust invokes a subset of these cases as evidence for or against one argument or another.  Drawing and building on the numerous new datasets generated in another part of my research on competition law and policy (see the pages for the NSF Data Project "The Law and Politics of Antitrust in Open Economies") this research seeks to move beyond anecdotal evidence to establish systematic patterns using current social science reserach methods.