top of page


A Relational Approach to Issue Linkage: Evidence from Environmental Linkages in American Trade Agreements

Why does issue linkage elicit support from some stakeholders, not others? Existing studies have focused on institutional conditions under which the enforcement of linkage becomes credible, leaving unanswered the question of why some groups resist linkage even when the promises of punitive enforcement are institutionalized. Alternatively, this paper develops a relational approach that privileges stakeholders’ mobilization resources within both international and domestic political systems. Focusing on the US’s trade-environmental linkage, a hard case for linkage support, I argue that outward-looking activists with ties to the broader international system tend to support issue linkage in exchange for design-based solutions due to their ability to mobilize international allies if the government reneges on its enforcement commitments. By contrast, activists with deeper ties to domestic political systems tend to resist linkage due to their ties to partisan allies who may be opposed to trade for other reasons. Quantitative analyses of new data on environmental NGO support for issue linkage and US trade agreements, along with case studies of four NGOs, support the theory. This paper shows that stakeholders’ political resources are important determinants of successful issue linkage, thereby addressing the puzzle of why American trade linkages to progressive issues have ceased to elicit broader support from left-leaning groups.

Culture or Security? How Gender Trumps Geopolitics in Shaping Support for Trade with Strategic Partners with Jongwoo Jeong. Winner of the 2023 APSA Centennial Center Summer Research Grant, Women & Politics Fund.

A prominent theory in international relations argues that countries prefer to trade with allies rather than with enemies due to geopolitical considerations. However, we have limited knowledge about how people update their attitudes on trade when they experience cultural differences with their allies. How do cultural considerations outweigh geopolitical factors in shaping mass attitudes towards international trade? This paper proposes and tests two competing mechanisms – learning and priming – through which individuals prioritize cultural or geopolitical considerations in forming their positions on trade. Focusing on LGBTQ+ rights and the legalization of same-sex marriage, we test our theories in the context of gender norm compatibility between the US and South Korea, conducting a survey experiment on the South Korean mass public. We expect to find that individuals with strong gender norms will decrease their support for trade with the US if their prior gender norms deviate from the ally's preferred gender norms, rather than learning from the ally and updating their own gender norms. This study supports the view that low and private political issues of gender may have significant consequences on international cooperation in high politics.


Conditional Effects of the Spotlight: Electoral Institutions and the Enforcement of Global Corporate Norms. Forthcoming, International Studies Quarterly.

Under what conditions do governments discipline powerful multinational companies for breaching global corporate norms? Existing IR theories have shown that peer monitoring and transnational advocacy are crucial strategies that shine a spotlight on norm violations. Despite the importance of those strategies, governments in the Global North have not consistently condemned their home-grown multinational companies for breaking norms related to climate or human rights in the Global South. This paper argues that the effect of such spotlighting is crucially moderated by electoral institutions, and legislators in proportional representation systems are more likely than those in majoritarian systems to push multinational companies to comply with global norms when such issues are in the spotlight. I find supporting evidence from the OECD Guidelines’ Specific Instance process and case studies. This article shows that traditional strategies to promote norm compliance, such as transnational advocacy and peer pressure, work differently in different countries, and electoral systems in the Global North can have unintended distributional consequences for norm beneficiaries.

Environmental issue linkage as an electoral advantage: the case of NAFTA. Review of International Political Economy (2021): 1-28.

Why would some legislators alter their votes on trade agreements in return for environmental side agreements that may be hard to enforce? While numerous studies have examined the effects of side agreements, few have evaluated their impact on legislators’ positions on a trade agreement over time. This paper examines the effects of the environmental side deal attached to NAFTA, with novel time-series survey data that captures the evolution of House members’ positions on NAFTA during discussion and finalization of the environmental side of the free trade agreement. I find that pro-environmental legislators in safe districts tended to withdraw their support for NAFTA once the side deal was agreed upon, whereas those in competitive districts stood their ground and increased their support in the final stage of voting. Contrary to the conventional wisdom, I find little evidence that the side deal assuaged legislators in import-competing districts. This article shows how the effectiveness of international institutions is moderated in important ways by electoral considerations. Click here to see the article


Experience, communication, and collective action: financial autonomy and capital market development in East Asia. New Political Economy (2022): 27-5, 731-753. with Yong Wook Lee  

From the creation of the eurozone to the African Financial Markets Initiative, the world has seen the emergence of regional financial institutions in recent decades. East Asia is no exception. ASEAN plus Three (China, Japan, and Korea) has institutionalised the Asian Bond Marked Initiative (ABMI) since 2003. What explains the development of the ABMI? We argue that East Asian states established it as an institutional mechanism for regional financial autonomy constrained by their dependence on Western financial market. In making this argument, we propose an experience-communication analytical framework to systematically investigate the formation of collective economic interests. We show that the analytical framework captures the timing and the content of the institutional evolution of the ABMI with greater precision. To demonstrate our claim, we attempt to make best use of both qualitative process tracing and quantitative collocational analysis for the validity and reliability of our claim. Particular attention is paid to analysing the politics of inclusion and exclusion in membership as ASEAN plus Three states shifted the forum for regional bond market cooperation from the APEC, of which the United States is a member, to the ABMI, which excludes the United States in pursuing regional financial autonomy. Click here to see the article

Does the U.S. Congress Respond to Public Opinion in Trade? American Politics Research (2023). with Michael Pomirchy & Bryan Schonfeld 
Are U.S. legislators responsive to public opinion on trade? Despite the prevalence of preference-based approaches to international trade, not much work has directly assessed the relationship between constituency opinion and positioning by members of Congress on trade bills. We assess dynamic responsiveness (whether shifting constituency opinion on trade yields corresponding changes among legislators) by exploiting an original dataset on the positions of members of Congress on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) at various points leading up to the November 1993 roll-call vote. We find no evidence of dynamic responsiveness to shifting constituency opinion on even a highly salient piece of trade legislation. We provide qualitative evidence that interest group influence may instead be the predominant source of shifting legislator positioning on trade.  Click here to see the article


Does Attaching Environmental Issues to Trade Agreements Boost Support for Trade Liberalisation?
In this policy op-ed published by Bruegel, I argue that the omission of environmental issues in the new U.S.-E.U. trade talks may have negative effects on ratification of the new trade deal in the European Parliament. I analyze whether pro-climate individual Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) withheld their support for the streamlined trade talks. To control for their baseline attitudes on issue linkage, I include their stances on the TTIP, which had extensive mandates to negotiate provisions on climate change. All else equal, if an MEP is not supportive of a stronger climate policy, the MEP is predicted to support the trade talks without environmental mandates, with a likelihood of 83%. However, the predicted probability of approval drops to 40% if the MEP supports a stronger climate policy in line with the Paris Agreement. Click here to see the article


Racial Biases in International Cooperation: Evidence from British and American Diplomatic Correspondence.

Race is an important component in human interactions. However, we know surprisingly little about how race affects diplomacy. Filling this gap, this project explores race-based determinants of international economic cooperation within international organizations. I ask: do policy elites treat their foreign partners differently depending on their counterparts’ racial identities, and under what conditions do these identity-based biases outweigh geopolitical and economic considerations in inter-state interactions? Drawing from social psychology and organizational studies, I show how racial biases hinder elites of different racial backgrounds from gaining nuanced information on each other and how this inferential challenge can be overcome using organizational schemas in IOs. I explore how British and American policymakers treated Japan and West Germany’s accession bids to GATT from 1951 to 1955. I use a mixed method approach including machine learning of archival text data and quantitative analyses of novel indicators of organizational schema within IOs.

bottom of page