Yves Tiberghien


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global politics

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Graduate Student Supervision

Doctoral Student Supervision

Dissertations completed in 2010 or later are listed below. Please note that there is a 6-12 month delay to add the latest dissertations.

Authoritarian decision making at the interface of the state, science and the public: politics of biodiversity conservation and biosafety regulations in China (2021)

Science and technology are an inherent part of political decision making in modern times. How do decision makers balance legitimacy, power and knowledge? Existing literature on the issue only focuses on liberal democracies and neglects authoritarian regimes in both theoretic and empirical investigations. In particular, it cannot answer how authoritarian regimes respond to challenges in governance, particularly ones rising from technically complex and uncertain policy fields such as biodiversity conservation and climate change. My research addresses this issue by investigating how scientifically complex international environmental norms are filtered through the systems of expert consultation and public contestation in an authoritarian political system. Drawing on 150 semi-structured interviews conducted between 2015-2019, my dissertation examines the policy processes in China’s nature conservation and biosafety regulation, and seeks to explain how the authoritarian state significantly strengthened biodiversity conservation in these two issue areas while the developmental and vested interests were stacked against them. Building on Jurgen Habermas’ three normative models, I first propose a typology of authoritarian policy decision-making at the science-politics interface, including authoritarian decisionist, technocratic, and public contested models. While all three models are present in China’s biodiversity governance, a “state-corporatist technocracy” model stands out as a more routine type of consultative decision making that often boils down to a bureaucratic-scientist alliance against environmental norms. I argue that two factors—the political salience and knowledge-based collective actors—are key to overcome this problem for the successful diffusion of environmental norms. In particular, I find that an emerging domestic epistemic community in protected areas and a knowledge-intense proxy civil society at the state-society nexus in biosafety regulation play critical roles in the norm contestation. Using a modified Multiple Stream Framework in the former and drawing on social movement theories in the latter, I identify how strategic trade concerns and changes in the party’s leadership raised the political salience, enabling the collective idea agency to shape policy.

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The politics of the post-2009 financial sector regulatory reforms in the United States (2019)

This dissertation is composed of three papers analyzing the post-2009 financial sector regulatory reforms in the United States. All three papers use process tracing to perform qualitative analysis. Evidence for my analysis in part comes from contemporaneous media reports, congressional hearings, and speeches and memoirs of key participants. In addition, about 50 interviews were conducted in Fall 2018, mostly in Washington, D.C. The first paper asks why the reforms brought about only incremental rather than transformational change given the obvious failures of the pre-crisis structure and an angry public demanding change. I argue that the need to restore the confidence of institutional investors in bank securities limited the types of policies that policymakers were willing to consider. The next two papers focus on particular regulations that were stronger than expected given strong bank opposition: capital adequacy rules for U.S. globally systemically important banks (G-SIBs) and the Volcker Rule. The second paper argues that the U.S. policymakers adopted capital adequacy rules for large banks exceeding international standards because they believed they were necessary to make banks safer but, also, that they would not undermine their international competitiveness. This paper counters the claim that the globalization of financial markets prevents countries from adopting regulations that exceed international standards. My third paper examines the Volcker Rule, a signature part of the Dodd-Frank Act that prohibits banks from engaging in proprietary trading and severely restricts investments in hedge and private equity funds. I argue the Volcker Rule was adopted because proponents were able to exploit veto points in the policymaking process. The result is different from most of the existing literature on veto points, which show how they tend to inhibit policy change. The final two papers find that factors widely believed to limit policy change may do so only under certain conditions. Specifically, concerns about international competitiveness and the ability of policy opponents to use veto points to block policy change do not always prevent regulatory change from occurring.

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Acting Like a State: The Politics of Foreign Labor Admission in Japan and Taiwan (2015)

This doctoral dissertation examines the contentious issue of international labor migration in an ever more competitive global environment. It seeks to explain why similarly advanced economies opt for different admission schemes for supplementary foreign manpower. Specifically, it examines why Japan and Taiwan – two cases that share many structural features – have adopted divergent admission mechanisms for foreign unskilled/low-skilled workers. Since the late 1980s, Japan has turned to thinly disguised labor importation channels, while Taiwan has relied on official guest-worker schemes. By examining the path of policy-making in these empirically neglected states, this study explains in theoretical terms the reasons behind adopting such divergent institutional arrangements for recruiting supplementary overseas labor. Injecting an explicit political science perspective into international migration research, it explores how preferences and autonomous interests of the state leave an imprint on the content of labor importation policy. The study argues that pressures to internationalize the Japanese and Taiwanese domestic labor markets were, at base, filtered by two interrelated factors: the state’s perception of security risks involved in admitting particular groups of migrants (be they co-ethnics or others) and inter-ministerial bargaining over authority in this policy area within the state apparatus, mediated by the state’s institutional structure. This state-centered perspective contributes to the understanding of the politics of labor importation in East Asia in particular, and to the comparative scholarship of immigration in general.

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Emerging Powers and Systemic Change: China's Impact on Global Commodity Markets (2015)

How are global economic institutions transformed at times of power transition? Why have some international markets for important raw materials undergone fundamental change in the way they operate as a result of China’s emergence, while other such markets have been more resilient to change? The goal of this dissertation is to explain diverging global outcomes from the dramatic and contemporary expansion of China’s economy. By doing so, I shed new light on the political economy of global markets, why they operate the way they do now, and how they have evolved over time.I trace key variances in China’s effect on global markets to the interaction of Chinese domestic industrial structures and the pre-existing structures of global commodity markets. The structure of key industries within China varies: some are concentrated, some fragmented, some very sensitive to price signals, and others less so. Likewise, the structures of various global commodity markets varied significantly before China’s emergence as a dominant global consumer in the twenty-first century.I argue that transformations in market power relations between consumers and suppliers increase the likelihood of institutional change in global markets. Price trends influence market stakeholders’ preferences for global pricing regimes, but they cannot fully explain the direction of change. Market power – including the capacity to coordinate others and the capacity to extract rent – also motivates behaviour.Combining comparative case analysis of the iron ore, potash and uranium markets with careful process-tracing, I unveil the full picture, from domestic variables to international-level outcomes. I show the tremendous concentration of market power in global markets prior to China’s emergence; that China’s market power, despite its economic size, is in many ways weak; that some of the largest systemic changes have been the result of this Chinese position of weakness; and that China’s emergence has led to marketization, despite it being a state-led hybrid economy.This is a study of institutional resonance and complementarity between global markets and their systemically relevant consumers. More broadly, this dissertation seeks to contribute to ongoing debates about the systemic resilience of global market structures, and the domestic determinants of global economic power.

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Resilient Governance: The Politics of Nature Protection in New Zealand, Norway and Canada's British Columbia (2014)

The degradation and collapse of the Earth’s ecosystems poses a formidable risk for humanity. Yet the effectiveness of political commitments to halt the irreversible loss of species and habitats remains critically low. The key challenge is to make the tough collective political decisions and then to follow through with real actions, despite often extreme resistance. What are the institutional mechanisms that can help increase the likelihood of the successful implementation of nature protection goals? Is decentralized, local-level governance more resilient in eventually meeting established nature protection goals than a centralized one? In attempting to answer these questions, this dissertation will rely on a qualitative analysis of nature protection policies carried out in New Zealand, Norway and British Columbia (Canada) between 1990 and 2012. In the final analysis the research will suggest the following. First, it appears that when dealing with protecting ecoregions defined by high opportunity costs, decentralized governance has very significant limitations that cannot be overcome without political coordination occurring at a higher-level. Among the most important factors for a meaningful adoption and gradual implementation is overcoming the initial discrepancy between the costs and benefits of conservation policies dividing the city and the countryside. A centralized governance offers distinct advantage in terms of bridging the divide between the countryside and the city and ensuring social partnership and cohesion between urban and rural populations over nature protection goals. Overall, resilient nature protection governance is likely to be centralized but one which allows the input of local stakeholders in both decision-making and especially at the stage of implementation. In addition, having open public access to land resources, including over privately owned lands, increases the likelihood of the implementation of conservation policies.

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Master's Student Supervision

Theses completed in 2010 or later are listed below. Please note that there is a 6-12 month delay to add the latest theses.

From "bean to bar" : the role of chocolate manufacturing companies and voluntary sustainability standards (2023)

This paper examines the growing trend of chocolate manufacturing companies incorporating sustainability standards in the global cocoa supply chain. It focuses on the efforts of major chocolate manufacturers to establish transparent and traceable supply chains, covering the entire production process from "bean to bar." Given that the cocoa and chocolate industry have faced criticism over the use of child labor, forced labor, deforestation, biodiversity loss, and poor farmer standards, the paper investigates where the companies have been placing most of their efforts in addressing these challenges. However, there are significant divergences in the sustainability standards adopted by chocolate companies, and their areas of focus vary widely. Existing literature on the cocoa supply chain often fails to address these divergent strategies and their implications, as well as recent changes that have occurred in the past five years. To fill these gaps, this paper aims to analyze the evolution of the industry, the extent of divergence in sustainability standards, and the reasons behind the efforts in specific areas of the supply chain.The paper argues that companies prioritize issues that can potentially damage their reputation and are influenced by international pressure and regulations, such as "Child and Forced Labor" and "Traceability." Among companies, divergences exist depending on the regulatory framework companies decide to follow, with European legislation influencing company behavior. Therefore, the paper situates the "Bean to Bar" initiatives within this framework, shedding light on the existing gaps regarding sustainability initiatives by chocolate manufacturers. It provides an overview of the cocoa supply chain, highlighting the challenges it faces, and introduces Voluntary Sustainability Standards (VSSs).To support its analysis, the paper compares VSSs adopted by companies, and evaluates trends observed over the past five years. To do this, the paper introduces a scorecard to assess companies' VSSs and efforts across five dimensions related to supply chain challenges: "Environment and Climate," "Child and Forced Labor," "Farmer Incomes," "Community Engagement," and "Traceability."

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Star wars : how superpowers cooperate over space, and what it means in case of an ET discovery (2023)

This study seeks to assess the conditions under which multilateral consensus emerges with superpowers when the time comes to negotiate on new dimensions of the commons, such as space, with a view to identifying which precedents can be used in the event of an extraterrestrial discovery. This qualitative research explores the literature on three international documents - two UN documents and one document from non-state actors - explicitly or implicitly touching on the possibility of extraterrestrial discovery, in order to identify where they stand within the “3-i” (ideas, institutions, and interests) paradigm.Through this research, I highlight the relevance of the “interests” and “institution” factor, and argue that two mechanisms support a successful global cooperation. First, global cooperation may start when there is a small group of powers (some “superpowers”) that try to entrench a first move, overriding in some way the zero-sum game between these superpowers. Then, global cooperation happens when these superpowers see value in participating to multilateral institutions’ activities to legitimize their own actions relative to the rest of the world or with respect to their own domestic interests. This research therefore aims to show that global cooperation on space is not a process driven by civil society, global governance institutions, or the UN.Thus, in the event of an extraterrestrial discovery, collaboration between the superpowers could possibly take place only if such collaboration proves reasonable in order to serve the interests of the discovering state.

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The ‘Green Shadow’ : paradox of increasing green practices and stagnant labour conditions (2023)

The adoption of ‘green practices’ has gained momentum in the global supply chains, but in comparison there has been little improvement in terms of labour conditions and wages. This study explores why labour issues have made minimal progress while environmental regulations are gaining traction. Why do low wages and poor labour standards persist, while the adoption of green norms such as recycling, and energy efficiency has increased in global supply chains? To address these questions, I formulate my argument in two parts using the lens of ideas, interest and institutions: firstly, I argue that the global climate and environmental governance architecture has become more advanced and restrictive than the global labour governance architecture, generating push forces on states and direct pull forces on nonstate actors such as multinational corporations to voluntarily commit and adopt greener practices. Meanwhile, the labour governance architecture's ineffectiveness in restricting MNCs or persuading them to voluntarily commit to better working conditions has resulted in slower overall progress in advancing labour rights. Secondly, I argue that the outcome of this governance asymmetry between labour and environmental governance casts a “Green Shadow’ over labour conditions where MNCs and states disproportionately focus on greening the supply chains while sidelining labour issues in the process. Using the empirical case study of apparel or ready-made garments industry in Bangladesh, I find that there are primarily two kinds of governance influence that ‘push’ the state to alter local practices: directly setting conditions on the producing firms and influencing the domestic policies. While ‘pull’ MNCs and businesses to limit their ecological footprint. I argue that the climate governance architecture has managed to incorporate environmental norms into domestic decisions and preferences by engaging the state itself and through MNCs.

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Vietnam's renewables surge : securing future political legitimacy through eco-developmentalism. (2023)

Solar electricity generation in Vietnam has doubled yearly between 2018 and 2022, starting from 0.05% and growing to 10% of the nation's total electricity supply. Within the same period, Vietnam emerged as Southeast Asia's number one renewables market by accelerating its manufacturing and exports of solar panels. Given this "green tech boom," this thesis explores the drivers behind its "renewables leapfrogging," where Vietnam has rapidly scaled up its reliance on cleaner and greener energy sources in an extraordinarily short time. Moreover, the thesis examines why Vietnam, a lower middle-income nation, has actively invested in green technologies and challenged the Environmental Kuznets Curve (EKC) theory predicting that nations will pursue sustainable policies only once a high level of wealth has been met. While scholars have attributed the renewables surge to the nation's growing socioeconomic needs, an examination of local environmental issues, rising public discontent, and existential impacts of climate change illustrate how Vietnam's "green shift" reflects the Communist Party of Vietnam's (CPV) growing concerns over its future domestic political legitimacy.Until most recently, the regime's legitimacy has been attained and even strengthened through the exchange of liberal rights for the continued provision of socioeconomic benefits with the promise of fostering a higher standard of living for the people. However, worsening environmental concerns, further exacerbated by the nation's vulnerability to climate change, have begun to challenge this. The widespread issue of pollution has undermined citizens' health and, in some cases, prevented their access to their source of income. At the same time, heavy reliance on imported fossil fuels has escalated Vietnam's energy vulnerabilities and disrupted economic development. With much of the regime's authority dependent on its ability to continue positive economic performance amid worsening climate change, it has shifted its legitimation strategy to adopt "eco-developmentalism" as a somewhat desperate attempt to secure future political legitimacy by addressing long-term environmental and economic challenges. Therefore, under the eco-developmental framework, sustainable practices have been carefully formulated into the nation's economic strategies, prioritizing the renewables sector and other green policies that balance environmental protection alongside economic prosperity.

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“Let’s talk sex scientifically!” : examining sub-Saharan states’ communication strategies in sexual health from AIDS programming in relation to their political leverage and stigmas against HIV’s key populations (2023)

Background:Different Sub-Saharan States, such as Botswana, Kenya and Malawi, use different policy approaches to mitigate AIDS epidemic, which generate different public receptions towards the government and HIV-prone key populations, aside from trends in HIV prevalence. This research explores factors which can affect people’s subscription to governments’ “scientific”, “evidence-based” paradigms, beyond traditional culture and state’s capacities in service deliveries, and into states’ discourses in their policy articulations and programming.Method:Theoretically guided by Schmidt’s (2008) Discursive Institutionalism and Gauvin’s (2014) “3i model”, an interpretive critical discourse analysis is conducted between Botswana, Kenya and Malawi, in light of their policy documents derived from national HIV Strategies. It takes a “medley” approach to compare state’s problem definition on AIDS, framing on significant ideas, and qualities of policies, particularly in regards to HIV-related interactions: behavioural change interventions and counseling. Studies of the cases of Botswana and Kenya are extended to empowerment and stigma mitigation towards key populations, with references to the legacies of states’ policy discourses, their Key Population Survey, and conceptualizations in “human rights”.ResultsIn early 2010s, the majority of people in Botswana show willingness to comply to state’s behavioural advices and services on HIV, and increasingly, to seek for government’s support in personal matters. The rates are lower in both Kenya and Malawi, despite former’s relatively high adequacy and level of HIV-knowledge than the latter. The state of Botswana “universalizes” dis-courses towards a public health regime, which Malawi attempts but fails; Kenya “privatizes” the matter of health instead. Despite policy efforts to empower key populations in human rights means, stigma against them remain in both Botswana and Kenya, primarily perpetuated by the society (Botswana) or authorities (Kenya).ConclusionDiscourses stimulating interactionally equitable interactions in national AIDS’ policy programming, aided by resource adequacy, are necessary to foster “scientific” behavioural change from traditional influences in sexual health, to establish state’s hegemony in national the public health regime. However, legal rights alone, stemmed from state’s attitudinal and policy changes, carries little direct effect to compel against everyday societal stigma against the sexually discriminated people.

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Offsetting, contagion, and neutralization: the effects of "thick reinforcement" in the Six-party Talks (2021)

This paper addresses gaps in the existing literature on competition and accommodation dynamics among great and middle powers within multilateral security institutions, such as Six-Party Talks. The thesis asks why such security institutions show so much variation in outcomes, despite similar long-term power dynamics. For example, what explains the fluctuations in the performance of the 6-party talks over two decades: why were the 6-party talks initially successful, before experiencing stalemate, and, eventually collapse?In response, this paper conducts a plausibility probe in the case of Six-Party Talks. Most existing studies focus on the behavior of North Korea, the US, and China through a power lens. In contrast, I argue that a high degree of cooperation at the bilateral level among the majority of participants is a determining factor for the success of the talks. In particular, strong reciprocal engagements, or “thick reinforcement” resulted in clear unity among participating states and decisive collective action. When such conditions existed, we observe an uptick in the performance of Six-Party talks; and success in softening the hard stance of North Korea.The paper finds that different combinations of thick reinforcement and weak engagement across dyads cause different effects. A simple ‘contagion effect’ was sufficient for the success of the talks in 2007. Low levels of cooperation across dyads led to ‘offsetting’ and ‘neutralization’ effects, which then led to stagnation of the talks in 2003 – 2004 and to their collapse in 2008 – 2009.

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Reaping the rewards of democracy: a mixed-methods study of donor reaction to democratization (or lack thereof) in aid recipient countries (2021)

The study examines how foreign aid donors react to changes in levels of democracy in recipient countries. After observation a variation in behavior among developed countries, the thesis explains such patterns through a twofold theory. We theorize that the major donors such as the UK, US, the Nordic countries, Germany, Japan and France diverge in their reaction to democracy because of two key factors: variations in their respective political economies and degree of foreign aid independence from foreign policy. The political economy analysis shows that aid priorities are part structurally determined: donors with liberal market-economies will not tolerate bad governance in aid recipients and will look for the more efficient recipients to provide aid; however, donors with coordinated market-economies may tolerate governance weakness in recipient countries to help with state-building. Second, a high degree of foreign aid independence from larger foreign policy makes it more likely that foreign aid is disbursed in pursuit of good governance outcomes in recipient countries rather than to fulfill the strategic priorities of donors. Donors with liberal market-economies who have relatively independent foreign aid agencies like the US, UK and the Nordics are more reactive to democratization (or lack thereof) in recipient countries. Countries like France and Japan that are coordinated market-economies and do not have a fully independent aid disbursing agency do not react to democratization. Germany that is a coordinated market-economy but has an independent foreign aid agency reacts moderately to changes in democracy among recipient countries. We theorize that smaller regional donors purse strategic interests and thus provide aid as a “reward” for democracy only when it is convenient. We utilize a Tunisian as a case study to show the differences among donor disbursement before and after its democratization in 2011. We bolster that case study through a regression analysis. The case study and the regression analysis support our theoretical arguments.

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Democracy, domestic institutions, and inequality: evidence from emerging countries and South Korea (2020)

This study examines how democracy and globalization and their interaction have shaped economic inequality in the emerging world. Previous studies offer conflicting theoretical expectations and mixed empirical evidence of the effects of globalization and democracy on economic inequality. Also, the nexus among democracy, globalization, and inequality in middle-income countries has received less attention than the same relationship in advanced industrial democracies. Conventional wisdom suggests that democracy creates more egalitarian society, whereas globalization is considered to be one of the common factors that resulted higher economic inequality.My study utilizes a mixed methods approach. I conduct cross-national time-series analyses as well as a case study on South Korea (hereafter, Korea). Surprisingly, contrary to the theoretical expectation, my quantitative analysis finds that democracy is not related to income inequality, regardless of whether a dichotomous or continues measure of democracy is used. However, globalization, as measured by trade openness and FDI, is strongly associated with increased income inequality. Finally, the Korean case suggests that domestic political variables such as government partisanship and party competition influence government efforts to reduce economic inequality, although democracy or democratization do not automatically produce a more egalitarian society. Evidence from the case study suggests that it could be the case that many middle-income countries do not have established left-right politics in the early stage of democratization, creating a situation in which the poor and middle class have limited political representation.

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Domestic vs. international: the real cause behind China's environmental policies (2019)

The current literature suggests that both domestic and international factors influence environmental policies. However, I argue that in China, domestic factors are more important than international factors in the process of domestic policy initiation and policy implementation. Domestic factors may also play a significant role in shaping policies that are driven by climate concerns. Process tracing is employed to reveal in what contexts domestic factors are more critical than international factors and why they are the real causes behind many environmental policies. Furthermore, I show that the concern of social instability may be the critical reason behind the initiation and implementation of China’s environmental policies. I use four distinct environmental policies in this article to bolster my argument. I also propose a conjoint experimental survey design which may help disintegrate the general concept of domestic and international factors and tell people which specific factor is more important in forming a new environmental policy and shaping the policy implementation. The finding of this paper bridges the gap in understanding the drivers behind China’s environmental policies and contributes to the theory building in environmental politics.

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Thinking like a creditor: risk, leverage and multilateralism in China's development finance (2019)

The establishment of the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) by China has raised many questions from global public. Most importantly, what are China’s motivations behind the decision of the AIIB? And why does multilateralism become a favored approach in China’s international development finance? Contrary to existing explanations which mainly focus on China’s strategic and geopolitical ambitions, this thesis provides a functionalist and pragmatic perspective: the economic rise of China has enabled the communist state to become a major sovereign creditor in international finance landscape in recent years. However, this new position in global financial system also brings China many structural challenges faced by other similar sovereign creditors, namely management of various lending risk and private fund leverage. To safeguard its valuable financial resources, China turns to multilateralism and multilateral institutions such as the AIIB, because they could be utilized as reliable and effective financial vehicles to help sovereign creditors like China in collecting information, hedging credibility problem, sharing burden and risk with others, as well as tapping private capital to supplement its financing goals.

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Financial Reforms, Divided Interests and Tipping Point Policy-Making: Renminbi Internationalization as a New Catalyst for Structural Reforms in China (2016)

China’s RMB has been making quiet march onto the world stage, first into focus in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, and notably gathering pace after 2012. By examining the seeming puzzle of why RMB internationalization, after a long albeit methodical trudge, accelerated after 2012, this paper seeks to offer a theory that could explain the motivations behind China’s pursuit of RMB internationalization. I argue that the existing approaches to this question, which primarily looks to the traditional economic factors such as relative national economic fundamentals, cost/benefit of currency internationalization, and impact of external shocks, fall short of explaining the timing, pace and trajectory of the RMB internationalization process. I maintain instead that the source of the dynamics driving RMB internationalization should be located in the structure of political decision making and political imperatives of the key players in the decision making process. This paper contends that RMB internationalization should above all be viewed in the broad context of China’s next round of reforms that centers on liberalizing the financial sector and developing the capital markets. Putting Chinese political decision making in the perspective of fragmented authoritarianism, this paper argues that with the balance of power of interest group coalitions favoring status quo or change in a deadlock, a lever is needed to break the stalemate and tip the balance toward reforms. Recognizing the need for financial reforms as China increasingly reaches the limit of its export-led growth model, political entrepreneurs at PBOC, under the personal leadership of Governor Zhou Xiaochuan and buttressed by the superior institutional resources and capacity, promoted RMB internationalization as the key lever to redistribute incentives and realign underlying coalitions. Capitalizing on favorable changes at the party’s top taking place post the power transition, which brought about a degree of centralization of the financial policy decision making that wasn’t available previously, Zhou Xiaochuan and his fellow political entrepreneurs were able to push forward RMB internationalization more effectively that both exposed the need for further financial sector reforms and generated broader support to tip the balance of power toward reforms.

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Strategic Localization: China's Climate Governance (2007-2016) (2016)

As the world’s largest GHG emitter, China’s climate governance no doubt matters for the future of global climate governance. Since 2007, China has improved its domestic climate governance through progressive policy measures and institutional building, at both national and local levels. In recent years, China has also been proactive in the multilateral and bilateral climate negotiations. Under the UNFCCC framework, China’s contribution to the success of 2015 Paris Agreement negotiation is undeniable. Prior to the 2016 G20 Hangzhou summit, China announced its ratification of the Paris agreement and further placed more focus on climate issues in Hangzhou summit. Bilaterally, the China-US Joint Presidential Statement on Climate Change in 2014 and 2015 showcases China’s political commitment to address climate change. Acknowledging China’s active climate actions, my research question asks: how do we explain China’s progressive climate governance in recent years? What are the driving forces behind China’s climate actions? The theory of norm localization proposed by Dr. Amitav Acharya stresses the agency role of local actors in norm diffusion, which opens research space for investigating the causal relationships between China’s domestic political economy and its progressive climate actions in recent years. This thesis argues that, China’s progressive climate governance can be explained by its strategic localization of climate change based on its need of energy security and economic transition. China has strategically utilized climate change as a normative platform to facilitate and legitimize its comprehensive transformation into low-carbon economy. In this process, the central governmental agencies play a dominant role in framing and merging climate governance with China’s new development agendas. Overall, behind the Chinese philosophy, climate governance is what China should do, but China takes actions in a strategic way to align with its national interests, politically and economically.

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China's SOE Reforms in the 2000s and 2010s (2015)

In the 2000s and 2010s, there is an influential phenomenon called “state advance and private retreat” in China’s SOE reforms in strategic industries related to the production and processing of petroleum, ferrous metals, tobacco and telecommunication. Although some indicators have shown SOEs’ decreasing proportions in these industries, considering SOEs’ paid- in capital and assets, the tide of state advance and private retreat does exist in the strategic industries.There are four variables influencing state advance and private retreat. For interest groups, the government-SOEs relationship cannot explain the existence of state advance and private retreat in the 2000s and 2010s since this relationship also existed before the 2000s. As SOEs’ strong representative in policy-making process, the SASAC has greatly contributed to SOEs’ march in the market after its establishment in 2003, while at the same time, private enterprises do not have enough access to policy making process. For political elites, differences between Jiang- Zhu leadership and Hu-Wen leadership are one of the causes. As for institutional factors, both the fiscal and financial systems have increased SOEs’ advantages in market competitions. For influential event, “Lang Whirlwind”, China’s accession to the WTO, and the 2008 financial crisis in the 2000s all greatly contributed to the emergence of state advance and private retreat.

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Instrumental liberalization: China's new practice in bilateral investment treaties in the 2000's (2014)

The spread of Bilateral Investment Treaties in the past decades, as a popular way to promote and protect foreign direct investment between countries, is no doubt a vivid example that displays the triumph of globalization and the diffusion of liberalization. By the end of 2013, most countries of the world have participated and signed 2,857 such treaties (UNCTAD, 2013). China, among them, is definitely a latecomer and a distinct player. Until 1982, which is 23 years later than Germany’s first treaty with Pakistan, China started its BIT program, and soon has become the world’s second largest contract party. As of its particularity, from the very beginning, China became one of the few developing economies (BRICS states in particular) that were able to sign treaties favoring their own economic interests and sovereignty; soon after, China is also the first and the only country among them that chose to abolish such privileges and started its new, liberalized practice. Stemming from China’s unique development trajectory, my research question asks: what has motivated Chinese government to make such unprecedented change? What was the rationale behind this behavior so distinct from other BRIC countries? The emerging causal narrative comes from Steve Vogel’s theory of “asymmetric regulation” in competitive markets, with the analysis of the specific domestic political and economic constraints within China. This paper argues that China’s new, liberalized practice in BITs is first a policy outcome to increase the international competitiveness of the national industry; more than that, it is also an instrumental liberalization effort made by the central government to strengthen the political control over the locals and to re-shape China’s understanding of the international order, especially the South-South cooperation.

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On Iceland's Financial Crisis (2014)

The global financial crisis has provoked a robust debate in international political economy literature. Existing studies afford readers with a thorough analysis of the impacts of neoliberalism and market fundamentalism, both of which are regarded as determinants of economic and political volatility. These studies identify a relationship between financialization and volatility that is encouraging as it permits for a more qualitative assessment of global phenomena, therefore facilitating a greater understanding of country-level experiences of the global financial crisis, of which there exists substantial and puzzling variation. Iceland’s financial crisis is an example of this variation.Though Iceland’s financial liberalization occurred during an era of unprecedented international financialization, this does not explain why Iceland’s government prohibited foreign competition, nor does it explain the rapid, astronomical growth of Iceland’s banking sector between 2002 and 2008. Furthermore, Iceland’s refusal and subsequent inability to honor foreign debt obligations represents a new development that merits addition consideration. These discrepancies provoke a number of questions regarding the impact that Iceland’s institutional structure has on domestic and international developments, such as the liberalization of its financial sector and the financialization of the global economy. This suggests not that Iceland’s financial crisis is a purely domestic phenomenon, but rather that domestic institutions played a unique role in exacerbating the impact of neoliberalism and market fundamentalism.I develop a conceptual framework informed by Mancur Olson’s theory of ‘institutional sclerosis’ to reveal the institutions that pre-dated Iceland’s financial collapse and argue that Iceland’s corporatist structure is conducive to capture, resulting in a disproportionately overextended banking sector. In addition, I summarize the events of Iceland’s debt negotiations to provide a more comprehensive understanding of what influenced Iceland’s politicians to provide continued support for honoring foreign debt obligations despite a clear ‘no’ mandate afforded by Icelanders in both referendums, as well as why Iceland honored foreign debt obligations altogether, allowing for proper conclusions to be drawn about Iceland’s recovery model and its implications for existing theories in the fields of international political economy and global governance.

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Understanding China's attitude toward international order: from general delegitimation to selective embeddedness (2013)

China is rising and playing an increasing important role in both regional and international affairs. As for China’s attitude toward international order, this thesis argues that since 1992 China has been gradually shifting its attitude towards international order from general delegitimization to selective embeddedness by using political discourse analysis and fuzzy-set analysis methods. Why has China become less critical of the international order in the past few years but in 1990s China severely criticized it? In terms of the relationship between China and the West, why does China cooperate with the West in some areas while fighting with it in others? This paper proposes an identity-attitude model to explain these puzzles. It argues that China’s attitudinal change is caused by the change of China’s identity. China cooperates with the West only when China perceives itself as the beneficiary of the international order.

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Constitutional oligarchy: The complex unity of the imperial Japanese state in the face of crisis (2011)

Under the Meiji Constitution, a political system designed to create an institutional framework that allowed for the sustained oligarchic rule of the Meiji Genrō, Japan experienced multiple crises generated by popular upheaval against the government during the interwar years. One was an economic crisis in 1918 triggered by Japan’s participation in the First World War which generated an unprecedented level of popular protests in the form of nation-wide riots and some strikes. Known as the Rice Riots, this crisis threatened to unleash a confrontation of the Meiji Genrō by political parties holding seats in the Diet who sought to establish party-led cabinets. A second crisis occurred in 1936 when 1400 soldiers of the Imperial Army stationed in Tokyo occupied government buildings and assassinated several high-ranking government officials in an attempt to set up a an all-military cabinet. While both party-politicians and military officers had further expanded their influence over the policy-process after these crises neither set of actors suspended, revised or replaced the Meiji Constitutional system. It is the purpose of this thesis to explore the reason why the Imperial Japanese polity was not structurally altered as a result of power change that accompanied the Rice Riots and the 1936 Incident. This essay makes two arguments about the Meiji Constitutional system’s sustainability during the prewar years. First, it argues that the Meiji Constitutional system due to institutional design and elite political culture functioned in practice as an oligarchic state. Second, it argues that the reason the Meiji Constitution was never revised, suspended or discarded during the course of regime change was because political parties and high ranking military officers ended up using the same strategies as the Meiji Genrō to successfully maneuver the institutional structure of the policy-process. Hence, in the process of learning how to master the institutional dynamics of the political system, they eventually overcame legislative deadlock and in the process stabilized the oligarchic state without having to reform it in order to expand their power within it.

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Authoritarian deliberation: the case of Hong Kong (2010)

Hong Kong is a half-authoritarian and half-democratic metropolis whose citizens enjoy full civil liberties. Deliberation is not usually expected in an authoritarian regime; however, the Hong Kong case shows that authoritarian deliberation is possible, although limited. There are two key questions that this thesis explores. The first one is whether or not the model of authoritarian deliberation is possible. The second one is why did the semi-authoritarian Hong Kong government choose to allow full deliberative processes in some issue areas? What can we draw from the unique HK deliberative practices? By examining the emerging deliberation initiatives in Hong Kong on both the macro and micro levels, this paper figures out two mechanisms for Hong Kong deliberation, one with the Advisory Group acting as a bridge between the government and the public. It is a model that can be learnt by mainland China about how to initiate and conduct effective deliberation at the metropolitan level. This thesis argues that deliberation in a context of an existing strong civil society and civil liberties like in Hong Kong is probably irreversible. The deliberative process in Hong Kong is successful in granting legitimacy to some policy outcomes, but probably not to the regime itself. However, no deliberation in the policy-making process may cause a legitimacy crisis for the regime.

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Defining symbolic spaces in response to a globalized world - Incorporating GMOs and segregating markets in Mexican agriculture (2010)

Developing countries are increasingly adopting agricultural biotechnologies to meet domestic objectives of food security, industrialization, increasing commodity exports, and international competitiveness. Yet, developing country policies lack coherence and are often conflicting and contradictory. Prevalent theories on the adoption of such technologies focus on trade relationships, regime membership, institutional capacity, consumer and producer acceptance, and environmental concerns. This thesis argues there is a need to move beyond static or uni-causal explanations. It proposes a framework that incorporates notions of symbolic politics as essential components. Incoherent national policies reflect national objectives and international constraints, as well as the concerns of society as expressed through resistance campaigns. The latter seek to influence national policies by framing GMOs in relation to broader societal concerns. By organizing resistance around a specific resource or symbol associated with conceptualizations of culture, identity, and autonomy, such movements are able to alter the meanings associated with GM crops. Thus, it is through the mobilization of symbolic politics that organized opposition is able to succeed in influencing national legislation in areas dominated by trade concerns, material interests, and power politics. This argument is explored though a narrative analysis of policy development in Mexico. Despite its history of promoting biotechnologies, it has not yet introduced GM maize due to effective resistance, as maize is a powerful symbol throughout the nation. This thesis also briefly considers the cases of Brazil and India as useful contrast cases that allow us to draw larger implications.

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Elections in authoritarian regimes: an endogenous story of elite dynamics in post reform Vietnam and China (2010)

The study of elections in authoritarian states has predominantly focused on whether elections help sustain or undercut the regime. Elections can either placate or embolden the opposition. However in the context of single party Leninist states, elections play a different role. Given that the Vietnamese Communist Party and the Chinese Communist Party have a monopoly of power in the political arena and tremendous control over society, there is no significant opposition force. Yet the two states hold elections. Furthermore, despite the two country’s similar trajectories of political and economic reform, both states undertake semi-competitive elections differently. China chooses to maintain a relatively closed system at the top, while creating a dynamic and competitive system at the local level; while Vietnam opts for a more open system at the top and keeps electoral institutions closed at the local level. This paper raises several questions; 1) why do Single Party Leninist States hold elections? 2) What is the significance of holding national versus sub-national elections? 3) why do China and Vietnam hold different types of elections given their similar regime-type? I propose an endogenous story to explain the varied outcomes in electoral institutions in China and Vietnam. Authoritarian elections and election-types are an institutional choice and a function of how the regime is constrained by elite pluralism. Comparing Vietnam and China and how they liberalize and cede power to institutions at different levels, demonstrates how elite divide shape the type of elections undertaken.

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The business of censorship: content management and the Chinese economy (2010)

Content control and censorship on the Internet are increasingly important topics for scholars of democratization, media and communications. Most studies have examined the relationship between the Internet, content management and various elements important to democratization such as the formation of civil society organizations. This thesis attempts to expand this discussion by examining the effects of online content management on economic systems, using the People's Republic of China as an example. China features a globally integrated economy that is increasing dependent on manufacturing and services while simultaneously maintaining one of the most extensive online content management systems in the world. This paper attempts to show how the Communist Party of China is able to reconcile the need for connectivity in order to drive their economy while maintaining political control. It also discusses the long-term implications of this strategy. The first section consists of a series of quantitative and qualitative tests to determine how various classes of websites are managed. These tests reveal that in order to maintain the flow of information necessary for a globally integrated economy, the Chinese Communist Party utilizes strategies that manage but not block the information flows related to business. This survey is followed by a case study examining the relationship between Google and China, and the implications of Chinese regulation and control for the broader economy. The results indicate that the Chinese regulatory strategy, which is designed to meet political goals, is creating a divergent technology industry that caters to the party's needs. This development may have serious implications for the future of the Chinese globalization effort as it poses a threat to interoperability and exchange between Chinese online presences and those in the rest of the world.

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