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Research Themes

 

LESLIE ELLIOTT ARMIJO

Research Topics

September 2014

My scholarly work spans two and a half decades and four intellectual arenas: public policy (outside the advanced industrial countries); the politics of finance; emerging powers in international relations; and Brazilian politics. Orienting these choices are commitments to both intellectual rigor and social justice. I am attracted to the analytical, concerned yet dispassionate, approaches one finds in the discipline of political science, which I view as a way forward in a world riddled with intensely held, mutually incompatible beliefs and demands. In other words, I try to find a place for both idealism and analytical precision in my personal list of social (and academic) virtues. (See Publications link for access to many of these papers.)

I. Public Policy

Public policy in emerging, transitional, and developing countries has been my principal research interest. My master’s essay compared historical episodes of land reform (in Mexico, Taiwan, Russia, and Tanzania), while my Ph.D. thesis investigated the influence of Brazilian national politics on bank reform and stock market regulation. Since then, I have at one time or another explored the politics of trade, energy, environment, macroeconomic management, privatization, and immigration, drawing on country experiences from Latin America and Asia.

Recently my focus has shifted to articulating theory and methods for extending the study of public policy beyond the advanced industrial countries. The curriculum of many graduate-level Public Policy/Public Administration programs in the United States remains quite North America and Eurocentric, although the world itself is becoming increasingly multipolar. My most recent work, coauthored with my Buenos Aires based collaborator, Sybil Rhodes, tries to fill this gap. To do this, we have returned to our intellectual roots in the theories of international relations and comparative politics. Which well-accepted propositions from IR and CP theory are worthy of explicit inclusion in the routine analysis of policy sectors?

For international policy issue arenas, we propose the “leader state framework” (LSF). Its core insight is that, within any given interstate system (which may be global, regional, or sub-regional), a policy sector issue vision that converges with the perceived national interests of a major state is more likely to be successful than a competing issue vision promoted only by weaker states or non-state actors. For comparative public policy issue arenas, our “varieties of political regimes” (VPR) approach observes that many countries are not stable, well-institutionalized, mass democracies. Therefore, many background conditions—from respect for the rule of law to the belief that the state exists to serve the citizens–that may be assumed relatively constant across the set of advanced industrial democracies must be investigated, not simply assumed. Across all political regime types, when faced with a menu of public policy options, an incumbent national leader will tend to choose the policies consistent with outcomes preferred by those constituents whose political support the incumbent ruler most needs (whoever these constituents might be in that national political context). Inter alia, the more narrowly-based the incumbent regime, the more likely are policy sector outcomes to diverge from those an objective analyst might judge to be “in the public interest.” Our framework, explained and illustrated in two books and a summary article, offers theory and step-by-step research protocols to assist both scholars and policy analysts to construct politically-informed and carefully comparative policy sector histories, whether international (multilateral and transnational) or national (domestic).

 Select bibliography (public policy, except finance):

(in progress). “Public Policy Studies in a Multipolar World: Bringing in International Relations and Comparative Politics” (with Sybil Rhodes). Article manuscript.

(in progress). International Public Policies of the Emerging Powers: Contending Hemispheric Visions of the United States, Venezuela, and Brazil (with Sybil Rhodes). Book manuscript.

(in progress). Comparative Public Policy in the Emerging Powers: Voice and Money in India and Brazil (with Sybil Rhodes). Book manuscript.

“Regional Integration: Political Uses of Energy Policy” (with Christine A. Gustafson). In Maurício Font and Laura Randall, eds., The Brazilian State: Debate and Agenda. Lanham and New York: Lexington, 2011.

“Two Dimensions of Democracy and the Economy.” (with Carlos Gervasoni). Democratization, 17:1, February 2010, pp. 143-174.

“Does Democratization Alter the Policy Process? Trade Policymaking in Brazil” (with Christine A. Kearney). Democratization, 15:5, December 2008, pp. 991-1017.

“‘We Have a Consensus’: Explaining Political Support for Market Reforms in Latin America” (with Philippe Faucher). Latin American Politics and Society, 44:2, 2002, pp. 1-40.

“Balance Sheet or Ballot Box? Incentives to Privatize in Emerging Democracies,” in Philip Oxhorn and Pamela Starr, eds., The Problematic Relationship between Economic and Political Liberalization, Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 1999.

“Center-State Relations in India and Brazil: Privatization of Electricity and Banking” (with Prem Shankar Jha). Revista de Econômia Política (São Paulo), July/November 1997.

Conversations about Democratization and Economic Reform: Working Papers of the Southern California Seminar (ed.). Los Angeles: University of Southern California, Center for International Studies, 1995.

“Menem’s Mania? The Timing of Argentine Privatization,” Southwestern Journal of Law and Trade in the Americas, 1:1, 1994, pp. 1-28.


II. Politics of Finance

 Within my larger interest in the politics of policymaking, I have had an on-going interest in financial policy and governance, historical and contemporary. I have analyzed political battles over bank regulation, stock market promotion, central bank independence, inflation stabilization, exchange rates, international financial statecraft, and the resolution of foreign debt crises. I find that one of the most pervasive–yet least noticed–consequences of a country’s national political regime type is implicit agenda-setting. Given an array of technologically-plausible policy sector options available in an historical time period, only a relatively narrow swath will be sufficiently compatible with that country’s overall national policy orientation even to be considered.

 Select bibliography (politics of finance):

(Under review). “The Public Bank Trilemma: The BNDES and Brazil’s New Developmentalism.” In Peter Kingstone and Timothy Power, eds., Democratic Brazil Ascendant. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press.

“Absolute or Relative Gains? How Status Quo and Emerging Powers Conceptualize Global Finance” (with John Echeverri-Gent). In Thomas Oatley and William Winecoft, eds. Handbook of International Monetary Relations. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, 2014, pp. 144-165.

“The Systemic Financial Importance of Emerging Powers” (with Laurissa Muehlich and Daniel Tirone). Journal of Policy Modeling, 36, 2014, Supplement 1, pp. S67-S88.

“Theorizing the Financial Statecraft of Emerging Powers,” (with Saori N. Katada). New Political Economy, January 13, 2014, pp. 1-21. DOI: 10.1080/13563467.2013.866082

The Financial Statecraft of Emerging Powers: Shield and Sword in Asia and Latin America (ed. with Saori N. Katada). New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014.

“Brave New World? The Politics of International Finance in Brazil and India (with John Echeverri-Gent), in L.E. Armijo and S.N. Katada, eds., The Financial Statecraft of Emerging Powers, New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014.

“Equality and Regional Finance in the Americas,” Latin American Politics and Society, 55:4, Winter 2013, pp. 95-118.

“Mass Democracy: The Real Reason that Brazil Ended Inflation?,” World Development, 33:12, December 2005, pp. 2013-2028.

“Crises cambiais e estrutura decisória: a política de recuperação econômica na Argentina e no Brasil” (with Philippe Faucher). Dados (Rio de Janeiro) 47:2, 2004, pp. 297-334.

“The Political Geography of World Financial Reform: Who Wants What and Why?” Global Governance, 7:4, Special issue on the Global Financial Architecture, edited by Susanne Soderberg, 2001.

Debating the Global Financial Architecture (ed.). Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 2001.

Financial Globalization and Democracy in Emerging Markets (ed.). New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 1999.

“India: Democratic Integrity and Financial Molasses.” In R. Bingham and E. W. Hill, eds., Government and Business Finance: Global Perspectives on Economic Development, Newark: CUPR Press of Rutgers University, 1997.

“Brazil: Business-Government Financial Relations in the Land of ‘Super-Inflation.'” In R. Bingham and E. W. Hill, eds., Government and Business Finance: Global Perspectives on Economic Development, Newark: CUPR Press of Rutgers University, 1997.

“Inflation and Insouciance: The Peculiar Brazilian Game,” Latin American Research Review, 31:3, Fall 1996, 7-46.

“Brazilian Politics and Patterns of Financial Regulation, 1950-1991,” in S. Haggard, C. Lee, and S. Maxfield, eds., The Politics of Finance in Developing Countries, Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 1993, pp. 259-90.


III. International Relations (of BRICS and emerging powers)

While the United States remains the single dominant power, it is clear that the interstate system is moving away from unipolarity and toward multipolarity. The rising powers are not in Western Europe. Yet when I began comparing Brazil with India in the early 1990s, elites in both countries found the very notion that they might have shared characteristics risible and even mildly insulting. These attitudes have undergone a sea change. Whatever their (immense) differences in domestic politics and goals, the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) have been able to cooperate more than most observers expected around their aspirations to play a larger role in the global system. Due to their structural positions in global and regional systems, Iran and Indonesia also interest me greatly, and could inspire some future collaborative work.

 Select bibliography (IR of emerging powers):

Unexpected Outcomes: How Emerging Economies Survived the Global Financial Crisis (ed. with Carol Wise and Saori N. Katada). Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution (in press).

“The Emerging Powers and Global Governance: Why the BRICS Matter” (with Cynthia Roberts). In Robert Looney, ed. Handbook of Emerging Economies. New York: Routledge, 2014, pp. 503-524.

“Brazil, the Democratic and Entrepreneurial BRIC” (with Sean Burges). Special issue on the BRICs, edited by Cynthia A. Roberts. Polity, 42:1, January 2010, pp. 14-37.

“The BRICs Countries (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) as Analytical Category: Insight or Mirage?” Asian Perspective, 31:4, December 2007, pp. 1-42.

“Brazil: To Be or Not to Be a BRIC?” (with Paulo Sotero). Asian Perspective, 31:4, December 2007, pp. 43-70.


IV. Brazilian/Latin American Politics

Most of my empirical and comparative work draws on Brazil, either alone or as a touchstone case against which to compare and contrast other emerging economies and recent democracies. I first visited Brazil during its democratic transition in the mid-1980s, following a 20 year military regime, and have been fortunate to be able to follow the country’s subsequent trajectory as it has become a regionally and globally-significant player in the early 21st century. (In early 2015 I will spend several months as a visiting fellow at the International Relations Institute of the University of São Paulo, IRI/USP.) The other emerging powers with whose national politics I am most familiar are India, Argentina, and Mexico.

Select bibliography (Brazil and Latin America, except as above)

“Brazil as a Global Player.” In Peter Burnell, Victoria Randall, and Lise Rakner, eds. Politics in the Developing World, 4th ed. London: Oxford University Press, 2014.

“Compared to What? Assessing Brazilian Political Institutions” (with Philippe Faucher and Magdelena Dembinska). Comparative Political Studies, 39:6, August 2006, pp. 759-786.

“Who’s Afraid of Economic Populism? Counter-Intuitive Observations on Democracy and Brazilian Political Economy.” In Lourdes Sola and Laurence Whitehead, eds., Statecrafting Monetary Reform: Democracy and Financial Order in Brazil, Oxford: Centre for Brazilian Studies, Oxford University, Fall 2005.

“The Problems of Simultaneous Transitions” (with T.J. Biersteker and A.F. Lowenthal). Journal of Democracy, 5:4, October 1994, pp. 161-175.

“The Resurgence of Political Democracy in Contemporary Latin America,” India International Centre Quarterly (New Delhi), 17:2, Monsoon Issue 1990, pp. 135-150.