Research

The Institute is an international collaborative project to foster research and transnational policy dialog about the structure and potential for global governance and international law affecting pressing issues of global regulation and policy. The Institute aims to foster innovative approaches to global policy and political economy, and new thinking about international legal and institutional arrangements.

At the IGLP, we are convinced that governance is not only rules, institutions and procedures. Ideas also matter. If for a generation everyone thinks an “economy” is an input output mechanism to be managed, and then suddenly everyone thinks an economy is a market for allocating resources to their most efficient use in the shadow of a price system, a great deal has changed. That is also governance.  We encourage research into the genealogy of governance ideas as they have played out in the fields of international law, international economic law, regulatory policy, human rights and development policy.

Research Agenda & Projects

All of our academic programming is designed to support our research agenda, allowing IGLP scholars to build collaborative teams, deepen their thinking and develop research for publication through multiyear participation in our various conferences and other program formats. Research at IGLP is organized in multi-year projects spearheaded by our affiliated faculty. Together, these projects provide a focal point at Harvard Law School for new thinking in the fields of comparative law, global governance and international law. We also aim to provide a framework at Harvard for students and faculty interested in pursuing innovative and heterodox research on foundational questions of theory and history as well as pressing issues of global policy.

Our current research projects include:

Corporate Power in Global Society: Explication, Critique, Engagement, and Resistance
This project, convened by Dan Danielsen (Northeastern University School of Law), Dennis Davis (High Court of Cape Town), and Jason Jackson (Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania), explores the role of law in the construction, operation and governance of global value chains and production networks: structures that have been theorized by sociologists and political economists to map the disaggregated modes of production that comprise much of modern global capitalism. This research is focused on examining how diverse local, national, regional, international and transnational legal regimes, together with cultural norms and business practices, shape the expectations, background entitlements, institutional forms and bargaining positions of various players in global production networks. Taken into consideration are how legal entitlements and normative expectations interact with material factors of production to produce particular forms of commercial relations as well as particular attributions of power and value creation. The group also explores how those legal rules and norms come to shape value chain governance, including the allocation of economic surplus and power, as well as the perceived limits of possible regulatory interventions to distribute rents more equitably or to reduce adverse externalities that result from a networked organization of production.

Expertise and Governance
This project aims to strengthen research linking efforts to understand the role of expertise in global governance among IGLP scholars with parallel work undertaken in the Science and Technology Studies field.  The focal point for collaboration has been a series of lectures, research workshops and an inter-faculty reading group organized by IGLP Director David Kennedy and Sheila Jasanoff of the Kennedy School.   Questions under discussion include: Who are experts, whom do they represent, what are the sources of their authority, and how can expertise be held accountable? What kinds of institutions employ expertise, and what are the organizational characteristics of such institutions? How does the growing global reliance on experts affect the quality, effectiveness, and accountability of public policy and governance? Through readings and/or presentations from several fields—including law, anthropology, history, sociology, and science and technology studies—the reading group considers the ways expertise is defined, constituted, challenged, defended, or defeated in contemporary societies.  The research initiative is supported by a seminar jointly taught by Jasanoff and Kennedy at HLS and KSG each spring.

Law and Economic Development: the Rule of Law and Political Choice
Nations across the developing world seek to strengthen the rule of law for their national development. For more than two decades, we have undertaken research on the opportunities and pitfalls of doing so. This initiative has been led by Professor David Kennedy, Institute Director, and has involved many of our affiliated scholars. Our research has focused on the legal system as a terrain for identifying, making and implementing political and economic choices. In 2017, we are pleased to partner with the Thailand Institute of Justice in their work strengthening young leaders seeking to harness the rule of law for improved national policy

Global Genealogy of Family Laws
The rise of colonialism, capitalism, liberalism, modernity and nationalism across much of the world was strongly inflected by the idea that legal and social life divides naturally into two opposite orders – the market and the family.  The idea was that the market was or should be governed by contract law that would ideally be uniform across the world and that would enable contracts giving effect to the will of the parties; while the family was or should be governed by family law that gave effect to the spirit of each national people and that enforced interpersonal duties.  The idea is so pervasive that it seems inevitable that commercial law will be uniform and western everywhere and that family life, gender and sexuality will be local and “different.” It also is so structural that it helps to explain how political economy imagines itself to encompass everything crucial about global governance while chronically “forgetting” the family, gender and sexuality.  This IGLP project, led by HLS professor Janet Halley, seeks to compare the spread of this idea and its various implementations across the world, both in the formation of colonial relations and in the breakdown of the colonial system. We believe that by understanding it genealogically and comparatively, we can better pry away the glue fixing us to it even today. On May 10 -11, 2013, the IGLP co-sponsored the policy roundtable, “Next Left: Framing a New Narrative”, in Barcelona, Spain. The event explored topics such as restoring sense of politics, distinguishing modern progressivism, and building a welfare society.

Bandung and the Global South: 60 Years of Transformative International Law
The Bandung Conference of April 1955 brought together twenty-five countries to oppose colonialism and neocolonialism and develop forms of political, economic and cultural cooperation across the Third World. The legacies of the Bandung Conference have long reach within critical traditions in international law. This project brings together scholars who have been influenced by the Bandung Conference and seeks to provide an opportunity for them to reflect on the legacies of the conference that animate their work today and the ways they can think about alternative futures going forward.

There are many intersecting and overlapping conversations that Bandung inspires amongst critical international law scholars. Some contributions will provide more historical analysis on the conference and its milieu; others will focus on more contemporary themes that resonate with Bandung’s legacies of South-South cooperation and anti-imperialism. Some ground their interventions in Third World Approaches to International Law (TWAIL); others may locate it within the many spaces after nationalism in their countries. The project has been defined quite broadly to enable a range of different kinds of contributions with the goal of producing a scholarly volume for publication. This project has been organized by Vasuki Nesiah of our Academic Council with the support of IGLP Docents Luis Eslava and Michael Fakhiri.

The members of this project convened at Harvard Law School in June 2014, including: Raj Balakrishnan (United States) Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Arnulf Becker (Chile) Brown University, Matthew Craven (United Kingdom) SOAS, University of London, Luis Eslava (Australia) Melbourne University Law School, Michael Fakhri (Canada) University of Oregon School of Law, Robert Knox (United Kingdom) London School of Economics and Political Science, Vidya Kumar (Canada) University of Birmingham, Boris Mamlyuk (United States) University of Memphis School of Law, Vasuki Nesiah (United States) The Gallatin School, New York University, Sundhya Pahuja (Australia) Melbourne University Law School, Charlotte Peevers (United Kingdom) University of Technology Sydney, Akbar Rasulov (Uzbekistan) University of Glasgow, Hani Sayed (Syria) The American University in Cairo, Mohammad Shahabuddin (Bangladesh) Jahangrinagar University, Mai Taha (Egypt) University of Toronto.

Rethinking Law and Finance in the Global Economy
This project, organized by Christine Desan of our Advisory Council, focuses on the lessons of heterodox and institutionalist traditions in both economic and legal science for understanding global political economy in the aftermath of the crisis. We are particularly interested in the relationships among private law, private ordering, national regulation and opportunities for multilateral governance or coordination. We are exploring the significance of disarticulation and intended inefficiencies in global systems in avoiding systemic risk – when introduced both within the transnational governance of private financial institutions and through regulation. The project focuses on the legal structure of money, credit and financial liquidity. It considers capital dynamics as a matter engineered over time by different government, non‐governmental organizations and private actors, paying particular attention to the ways in which capital dynamics cross borders, studying the domestic and global dimensions of capital dynamics in tandem.


Past research projects have included:

Heterodox Approaches to Islamic Law and Policy
This project, led by Intisar Rabb (Harvard Law School), Cyra Akila Choudhury (Florida International University College of Law), and Vanja Hamzić (University of London), explores current thinking in the field of Islamic Law and Policy. Specifically, it brings together a diverse group of established and emerging scholars to share critical and comparative methodologies and approaches to Islamic law and jurisprudence. Scholars from law, history, political science, anthropology, economics, and other social sciences share research on topics including Islamic legal thought, legal history, family law, finance, and the arts.
Global Financial Regulation
This project, which was supported by IGLP’s Leading Sponsor VISA International, encompassed inquiries into three related areas: liquidity in the global economy, including foundational research on the nature of global liquidity and capital as legal institutions; financial inclusion and banking services for the “unbanked” as an aspect of development policy; financial service regulation in emerging markets and alternative paths to economic development. Through a series of sponsored student and faculty research projects and public policy discussions, we sought to develop a transnational research network of young scholars and IGLP faculty working on research themes related to global financial regulation.  The initiative’s inaugural event was a policy workshop on March 30, 2012, which brought scholars from the IGLP network into sustained conversation with high-level government officials and industry representatives.  In August 2012, the IGLP convened a research mission and workshop in Bangkok focused on new financial services regulation and development strategies in the emerging markets of the ASEAN region. In 2012 and 2013, the initiative sponsored a competitive research grant program for young scholars.
The Next Left: The Challenges & Opportunities for Social Democratic Politics in a Global Economy
This project, which we co-sponsored with Dr. Alfred Gusenbauer (Former Chancellor of Austria) of our Honorary Council, encourages dialogue among those rethinking the politics of the left after globalization in various regions of the world, with a particular emphasis on the dynamics within Europe and between Europe and Latin America. The IGLP convened a meeting of the group at Harvard Law School in April 2012. On May 10 -11, 2013, the IGLP co-sponsored the policy roundtable, “Next Left: Framing a New Narrative”, in Barcelona, Spain. The event explored topics such as restoring a sense of politics, distinguishing modern progressivism, and building a welfare society.
The US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act
In 2011 we undertook an investigation of the structure and efficacy of the anti‐corruption legislation passed in more than 30 countries since the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977, assessing the relationships among the network of statutory and treaty obligations, the emergence of a transnational practice of private sector compliance and due diligence, and the growth of criminal enforcement efforts in the last several years, particularly in the United States. In September, 2011 David Kennedy and Dan Danielsen of our Academic Council published a report entitled Busting Bribery: Sustaining the Global Momentum of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act that examines the current efforts in Washington, D.C., to amend the FCPA and presented the research in various venues in Washington and New York, most recently in an ABA sponsored webinar on anti-corruption compliance in February 2013.
Law and the New Developmental State
Law and the New Developmental State was a collaborative faculty project led by IGLP Advisory Council Member David Trubek that sought to examine the modern revival of the developmental state. Although state activism came under attack in the hey-day of neo-liberalism, states in many developing countries are once again actively promoting economic growth and social development. These initiatives build on prior experiences but often take new forms as states cope with the challenges of growth under conditions of globalization. This new state activism tends to be more export oriented, more concerned with competiveness and innovation, and more aware of the need for incomes policy. These “new” developmental states prefer to support and partner with the private sector rather than supplant it.  Such changes in state policy and practice have an impact on the legal order. They may make new uses of existing legal tools, deploy different enforcement practices, and create the need for new laws and new forms of governance. This project, co-sponsored with the network on Law and the New Developmental State (LANDS) explored relations between the legal order and new state policies in Brazil, Mexico, Colombia and Venezuela.  As part of this initiative the IGLP co-sponsored a seminar and research mission to Brazil in July 2013 which explored the emerging forms of new state activism in Brazil and elsewhere, examined the theoretical work in political economy that accompanied these turns in state policy, learned about the practice behind the “Brazilian policy-making factory”, the issues these developments had for the law and for the economy, and saw how the emerging law and development debate in Brazil related to global trends in the field. In July 2013, research done for the LANDS initiative resulted in the publication of “Law and the New Developmental State: The Brazilian Experience in Latin American Context“. The project was spear-headed by David Trubek (University of Wisconsin) in conjunction with other IGLP alumni including Diogo Coutinho (University of São Paulo Law School), Mario Schapiro (Fundação Getulio Vargas/São Paulo Law School), Shunko Rojas (Harvard Law School), Alvaro Santos (Georgetown Law School), Michelle Ratton Sanchez Badin (Fundação Getulio Vargas/ São Paulo Law School), and Helena Alviar Garcia (Universidad de los Andes Law School). The book explores the emergence of a new developmental state in Latin America and its significance for law and development theory.
Global Poverty and Heterodox Development Pathways: Mapping, Method and Critique
This Project, led by Lucie White (Harvard Law School) and Jeremy Perelman (Sciences Po Law School), was a collaborative effort among critical law and development scholars to present, map and critique alternative development pathways that are emerging in the confused phase of the post-Washington Consensus.  The initiative was launched as a Pro-Seminar in 2012 where members of the group presented short papers that tease out the methodological features of their respective approaches, as well as the distributional effects of the developmental pathways that they identify.In May 2014 The IGLP and Sciences Po Law School co-sponsored a Workshop in Paris, France, May 17-19, 2014 as part of our ongoing research project on Global Poverty and Heterodox Development Pathways. This workshop explored emerging ideas about organizing political economies that push back against global inequalities.Participants examined such emerging ideas in sectors of contemporary global political economies, such as finance, agriculture, industrial organization, supranational governance, political movement, and critique.

Transnational Dialog

In January 2017 we will convene an international Workshop for emerging leaders and policy professionals on the theme of development and the rule of law in collaboration with the Thailand Institute of Justice in Bangkok.

From the beginning, we have actively sought to engage the policy community and to sponsor transnational dialog on crucial policy choices related to research underway in our global network. Through our focus on cross-training, interdisciplinary collaboration, and South-South collaboration, we seek to better understand our global situation, connect the dots between sectors and disciplines, cross-pollinate ideas, and strengthen our global infrastructure.

Previous Activities & Initiatives

In recent years, we have convened policy-makers and scholars in Colombia, Chile, Brazil, Thailand, Russia and China as well as in the United States to engage with our ongoing research activities. We have also convened international research teams for on‐site investigations of policy directions and experience, through site visits and discussions with policy makers, often followed by an academic conference reflecting a first cut on the findings of the research inquiry. The following timeline details some of our key activities and initiatives over the years:

  • In 2012 and 2013, we developed a transnational network of young scholars and IGLP faculty in collaboration with VISA International on the following research themes: liquidity in the global economy; financial inclusion and banking services for the “unbanked”; and financial service regulation in emerging markets and alternative paths to economic development. The initiative’s inaugural event was a policy workshop on March 30, 2012, which brought scholars from the IGLP network into sustained conversation with high-level government officials and industry representatives.  In August 2012, the IGLP convened a research mission and workshop in Bangkok focused on new financial services regulation and development strategies in the emerging markets of the ASEAN region. In 2012 and 2013, the initiative sponsored a competitive research grant program for young scholars.
  • In August 2011, we co-sponsored a major public discussion of the place of a rising Asia in the political economy of the world, to be held in Bangkok Thailand. The event brought current and former political leaders from Europe, Latin America, Africa, the United States and Asia into dialog with academics and researchers from our global network. In this spirit, we have brought leading figures from the foreign affairs establishment in Moscow to Harvard for an intensive discussion of “Putin’s Russia in International Affairs,” and have hosted scholars from across the Americas interested in rethinking Latin America’s position in global legal and political culture. We have helped support efforts by an important regional government in the Middle East to improve its ability to tackle governance issues in ways distinct from the demands and one‐size‐fits‐all programs of the international financial institutions and foreign aid agencies.
  • In 2009, David Kennedy and Professor Joseph Stiglitz co-chaired a major conference on financial regulation in China on October 29 and 30, at Peking University in Beijing. The conference, which was titled “Meeting of the China Task Force: Regulation After the Crisis,” brought together Chinese and Western scholars and Chinese policymakers to discuss regulation in China after the economic crisis. This conference resulted in a book edited by David Kennedy and Joseph E. Stiglitz entitled Law and Economics with Chinese Characteristics: Institutions for Promoting Development in the Twenty-First Century.
  • In 2008, we convened law and development specialists from more than ten countries in Bogota, Colombia for a series of workshops and research trips, co‐sponsored with the University of Los Andes (Bogota). We explored national development plans and lending strategies at the Central Bank – as well as the Constitutional Court ‐‐ and investigated, for comparative purposes, the coffee growing and flower growing industries. Thereafter, David Kennedy chaired a conference on New Perspectives in Law and Development at the University of Los Andes in Bogota. The research team came from across Latin America, South Africa, Europe, Egypt, Syria and the United States.
  • In 2007 we sponsored a similar research initiative in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The research mission focused on innovative initiatives implemented in Brazil by public and private institutions from “participatory budget” projects, the “bolsa escola”, negotiated land‐reform, the HIV/AIDS program, the Novo Mercado at the São Paulo Stock Exchange, the favela disarmament campaign, as well as the development contributions made by industrial leaders such as Embraer Airlines and Petrobras.
  • In 2006, we sponsored a workshop and conference on the use of foreign law in legislation with the Library of the National Congress in Santiago, Chile. Participants included development and comparative law specialists from almost a dozen countries in North and South America, Europe and the Middle East. We have also cosponsored a workshop on “globalization and development” in Moscow, Russia which brought experts from Brazil, the United Kingdom, Austria, and the United States to meet with senior colleagues in Moscow for discussion.