Research

Over the past two decades, firms and non-governmental organizations have increasingly undertaken regulatory activities previously exclusive to governments.  Sometimes independently, other times in conjunction with governments, these private actors have become responsible for setting and administering regulatory standards. For example, sustainable timber is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council or the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification; Chemical manufacturing by Responsible Care; Tuna as Dolphin-Safe; Rugs by GoodWeave as being free of child labor.  This shift in regulatory authority, from governments to private actors, is a phenomenon central to variety of concepts such as “new governance” (Lobel, 2004), “new environmental regulation” (Fiorino, 2006), “the regulatory state” (Braithwaite & Drahos, 2000), and “regulatory capitalism” (Levi-Faur, 2005).  My research seeks to understand what motivates actors to pursue these arrangements, their impacts on government regulation, and whether they are effective at solving social and environmental problems.

Publications Under Review

“Standards as Strategies: Using Transnational Private Standards to Lobby Governments.” (Submitted October 2016)

In this study I use maximum likelihood regression and duration models to determine the effect the adoption of sustainability standards in the forest sector has had on government purchasing (i.e. procurement) policies of national governments in 38 mid- to high- income countries from 2000 - 2011. I find that firms in manufacturing industries (e.g. pulp-and-paper, wood furniture) have sought to gain competitive advantages by using private standards to lobby for stronger timber procurement policies. Conversely, firms in the forest management industry (i.e. those that grow and harvest forests) have used standards adoption to forestall and weaken government timber procurement policies.  This manuscript has been submitted for publication and I am currently awaiting its review.  

Works In Progress

"Lobbying for More or Less Government Regulation? Determinants of Political Strategies for Firms that Adopt Transnational Private Standards."

When faced with a proposed change in government regulation, firms can opt to abstain from lobbying or enact political strategies to support, oppose or hedge against the proposal (Meckling, 2015).  I posit that firms that adopt transnational private standards are able to use benefits exclusive to adopters (Prakash & Potoski, 2006) as part of political strategies to pull or push government regulation towards their desired outcomes.  For example, to avert further government regulation, firms might adopt transnational private standards to persuade policymakers self-regulation is effective.  Alternatively, as a means of gaining competitive advantages, they might adopt a standard and seek increased government regulation such that they, but not their competitors, are able to comply.  Using a cross-sectoral comparison of the political strategies of firms that have adopted transnational private standards in the laundry detergent, chemical and forestry sectors in the US and European Union, I find that firms’ selection of political strategies is largely explained by the interaction between domestic political opportunities (openness of policymaking processes, relationship between regulators and firms) and market structures (industry growth, foreign competition, and costs of certification vs. value-added).

"Pursuing Protectionism or Promoting Sustainability: Timber Procurement in the UK, Canada and Australia"

What if national governments implement sustainability requirements in their purchasing policies not as a part of a commitment to the environment or due to NGO pressure, but as a non-tariff measure to protect domestic industries from trade?  In this study of the timber procurement policies and the political activities of firms in the forest sectors of the UK, Canada and Australia, I examine whether these policies were a result of firm lobbying and if their enactment restricted imports from less-developed countries.  Through a cross-industry analysis, I find that lobbying by firms conforms with expectations derived from endogenous tariff theories.  Firms in import-competing industries lobbied for more regulation, and those in export industries, as well as those located in countries with a greater abundance of forests, opposed regulatory increases.  I also find that in the aggregate these policies did not decrease trade flows from less-developed countries, although they did temporarily reduce imports from China.  Their greater impact was to ‘level the playing field’ between foreign and domestic firms by increasing the costs of imports.

"Are Transnational Private Forestry Standards Effective?"

There is an ongoing debate on whether transnational private standards induce change in the behavior of firms, and if so under what conditions, or whether they are solely marketing and lobbying tools (e.g. Castka & Corbett, 2014; Darnall & Sides, 2008; Gamper-Rabindran & Finger, 2013).  Using Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) data from NASA on the coverage and density of forests across countries, and my dissertation data on the adoption of sustainability standards in the forestry sector, I will investigate whether the adoption of these standards has had an effect on deforestation.

"Using Time-Series Network Analysis to Identify Diffusion Patterns: Literature Review and Proposed Methodology"

To identify the causal mechanisms responsible for the diffusion of a given policy (e.g. coercion, economic competition, shared norms, and learning) scholars often use ‘process-tracing,’ or ‘spatial lags’ in regression models (Gilardi, 2012; Simmons & Elkins, 2004).  Each of these methods involves different sets of trade-offs.  Process-tracing is data intensive, and generated inferences are usually not generalizable beyond the cases observed.  Conversely, using spatial lags in regression models can be limiting as not all causal mechanism are easily operationalized into a quantitative model (e.g. norm diffusion), and simultaneously controlling for alternative mechanisms is often unfeasible due to limited degrees of freedom. I posit that causal mechanisms generate distinct and observable spatiotemporal patterns, and present a new method of identifying these mechanisms using time-series network analysis.

"From the International to the Local: Using Classroom Simulations to Teach Environmental Justice"

Discussing issues of environmental justice can be difficult for some students as they may be uncomfortable reflecting on the privileges and/or injustices they have experienced.  I propose an approach that first uses a classroom simulation to teach theories of environmental justice across countries then ‘downscales’ the concepts to the individual level.  I argue that by initially creating distance between the object of study and their experiences, students are more open to considering sensitive material that challenges their preconceived beliefs.

"The Ostrom-Young Debate: Can any of Elinor Ostrom’s Design Principles be Upscaled to International Environmental Problems?"

Throughout their careers, Oran Young and Elinor Ostrom had an ongoing and unresolved discussion on whether any of her design principles of local institutions associated with the successful and long-enduring management of common resources could be upscaled to the international level.  Using qualitative comparative analysis and fixed-effects regression models with data from the International Regimes Database (Breitmeier, Young, & Zürn, 2006) I test whether four of her principles are associated with improved performance in 38 multilateral environmental treaties. 

Other Publications

 2011 “Methodological Guide on Tariffs, Taxes and Transfers in the European Water Sector,” with Manuel Lago, Jennifer Möller-Gulland, Julian Leem Gerardo Anzaldua, Isabelle Turcotte, Johanna von der Weppen, Felipe Gaitan, and Benjamin Boteler, EUREAU.
 2011 “Literature Review & Research Survey,” with Andreas Graf, Haran Bar-On, Ralph Piotrowski, Anneke von Raggamby, and Sarah Lang, InContext Project: Supportive environments for sustainable living. 

Conference & Workshop Presentations 

 2016 “Forestry Standards as Firm Political Strategies,” American Political Science Association Annual Meeting, Philadelphia, PA.
 2016 "Standards as Strategies: How Firms Adopt Transnational Private Standards for Leverage in Regulatory Policymaking,” 24th World Congress of Political Science, International Political Science Association, Poznań, Poland.
 2016 "Standards as Strategies: How Firms Adopt Transnational Private Standards for Leverage in Regulatory Policymaking,” Midwest Political Science Association, Chicago, IL.
 2016 “Private Forestry Standards and Procurement Policies,” International Studies Association Annual Conference, Atlanta, GA.
 2015 “The Influence of Transnational Corporate Private Regimes on Domestic Policies,” International Studies Association Annual Conference, New Orleans, LA. 
 2015 “Adopting Transnational Standards, Preempting Stringent Regulations,” Duck Family Graduate Workshop on Environmental Politics and Governance, University of Washington, Seattle, WA.
 2014     “The Diffusion of Feed-In Tariff Policies,” International Studies Association Annual Conference, Toronto, Canada.
 2013   “Upscaling Elinor Ostrom's Design Principles Illustrated by Long-Enduring Common-Pool Resource Institutions: Quantitative Analysis Using International Regimes 
Database,” International Studies Association Annual Conference, San Francisco, CA.
 2012 “From Climate Change to Conflict? Human vs. State Security Concerns in the Arctic,” International Studies Association-Western Division, Pasadena, CA.
 2010 “The Arctic Environment as a Common-Pool Resource,” Continents Under Climate Change Conference, Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany.

Master’s Thesis

“Upscaling Elinor Ostrom's Design Principles Illustrated By Long-Enduring Common-Pool Resource Institutions,” University of Potsdam (May 2010).

Grants and Awards

 2016

Global Oregon International Research Award

 2016

American Political Science Association Dissertation Workshop Stipend:  Advances in Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy

 2015

Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research Grant, Department of Political Science, University of Oregon

 2013 – 2014

William C. Mitchell Graduate Summer Research Award, Department of Political Science, University of Oregon

 2013 – 2014

Travel Grants, International Studies Association Travel Grant for Annual Convention 

 2013

Global Sustainability Summer School Grant, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies, and Santa Fe Institute

 2012 – 2016 

Travel Grants, Department of Political Science, University of Oregon

 2010

Best-in-Class, grade average 1.4 (~94%), Master of Public Management & Master of Global Public Policy, University of Potsdam, Germany

Training

 2015

Summer Program in Quantitative Methods of Social Research, Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research

ICPSR Certificate
EITM Certificate

 2014

Summer School on Individual and Agent Based Modelling, Dresden University of Technology

Certificate

 2013

Summer School in Methods and Techniques, European Consortium for Political Research

Certificate
 

 2013

“Complex(c)ity - urbanization and energy transitions in a changing climate,” Global Sustainability Summer School, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS), and Santa Fe Institute

Certificate

 2012

“Risk, uncertainty and extreme events – characteristics of human-environment interactions,” Global Sustainability Summer School, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS), and Santa Fe Institute

Certificate

 2014

Mentor, Arctic Summer College, Ecologic Institute

 

 2011 – 2013

Participant, Arctic Summer College, Ecologic Institute