Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs

Richard M. Locke

Richard M. Locke

Provost, Brown University
Professor of Political Science and Public and International Affairs


Richard M. Locke was appointed as Brown’s 13th provost, effective July 1, 2015.

Locke's current research is focused on improving labor and environmental conditions in global supply chains. Working with leading firms like Nike, Coca Cola, Apple, and HP, Locke and his students have been showing how corporate profitability and sustainable business practices can be reconciled. Locke has published five books – most recently The Promise & Limits of Private Power, Cambridge University Press (2013), based on his research on labor standards in global supply chains; Production in the Innovation Economy, with Rachel Wellhausen, The MIT Press (2013); Working in America with Paul Osterman, Thomas Kochan, and Michael Piore, The MIT Press (2001); Employment Relations in a Changing World Economy with Thomas Kochan, Michael Piore, The MIT Press (1995); and Remaking the Italian Economy, Cornell University Press (1995), as well as numerous articles on economic development, labor relations, and corporate responsibility.

At Brown, Locke teaches graduate and undergraduate courses on the political economy of labor and development as well as on global entrepreneurship. Locke was named a 2005 Faculty Pioneer in Academic Leadership by The Aspen Institute and awarded the MIT Class of 1960 Teaching Innovation Award in 2007 and the Jamieson Prize for Excellence in Teaching in June 2008. He currently chairs the Apple Academic Advisory Board, a group of independent academics who are working with Apple to improve labor conditions among the company's suppliers.


Globalization & Labor Standards
Globalization, with its volatile mix of economic opportunity and social disruption, is redefining the experience of work and challenging national institutions that govern employment. The world of global supply chains links thousands of firms, large and small, extending across cultural and political boundaries. In this world, corporations, unions, NGOs, national governments, and even international labor, trade and financial organizations are all casting about, searching for new strategic directions and/or novel institutional arrangements for governing employment and work. But there is enormous uncertainty about their likely success – in particular, about their success in addressing three basic concerns about employment relations in the global economy: fair compensation, decent and healthy working conditions (including work hours), and rights of association. To get at these questions, I have been conducting a series of studies, all involving graduate students, on labor conditions in different global supply chains.

The Political Economy of Development and Poverty Alleviation: The Case of Brazil's Northeast
This project examines policies and programs aimed at combating the alarming rates of persistent poverty that continue to plague Northeast Brazil. Collaborating with the Banco do Nordeste do Brazil, a government development bank focused on Brazil's poor northeast region, and building upon prior research currently underway on issues of sustainable economic development at Brown University, this multi-year research project analyzes and assesses a variety of programs and policies (e.g., the decentralization of various social services (health, education) to local municipalities; various micro-credit programs; efforts to link specific industrial sectors or clusters to global markets; various "capacity-building" programs for local public agencies and elected officials) in order to assess their impact on promoting development and reducing poverty.


Articles Published in Refereed Journals

Co-author with Greg Distelhorst, Hiram Samel, and Timea Pal, “Production Goes Global, Compliance Stays Local: Private Regulation in the Global Electronics Industry, Regulation and Governance, forthcoming 2015.

Co-author with Salo Coslovsky, “Parallel Paths to Enforcement: Private Compliance, Public Regulation, and Labor Standards in the Brazilian Sugar Sector,” Politics and Society, Vol.41, No. 4 (December 2013): 497-526.

Co-author with Ben Rissing and Timea Pal, “Complements or Substitutes? Private Codes, State Regulation and the Enforcement of Labour Standards in Global Supply Chains,” 50th  Anniversary issue of The British Journal of Industrial Relations, Vol.51, No.3 (September 2013): 519-552.

Co-author with Monica Romis, “The Promise & Perils of Private Voluntary Regulation: Labor Standards and Work Organizations in Two Mexican Factories,” Review of International Political Economy, Vol. 17, No. 1 (February 2010).

Co-author with Matthew Amengual and Akshay Mangla, “Virtue out of Necessity?: Compliance, Commitment and the Improvement of Labor Conditions in Global Supply Chains,” Politics & Society, Vol. 37, No 3 (September 2009): 319-351.

Co-author with Thomas Kochan, Monica Romis, and Fei Qin, “Beyond corporate codes of conduct: Work organization and labour standards at Nike's suppliers,” International Labour Review, Vol. 146 Issue 1/2, (March-June 2007): 21-37.

Co-author with Fei Qin and Alberto Brause, "Does Monitoring Improve Labor Standards?: Lessons from Nike," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, Volume 61, Issue 1 (October 2007): 3-31.

Articles Published in Non-refereed Journals

“Looking in the wrong direction? Reflections on Italy’s most recent ‘crisis’”, Journal of Modern Italian Studies, Vol. 19. N. 4 (2014): 375-379.

Can Global Brands Create Just Supply Chains?” Boston Review, Vol. 38, No. 3 (May-June 2013): 12-18.

 “Rethinking Compliance: Improving Working Conditions in Global Supply Chains,” Perspectives on Work. Volume 13, No. 1 (Summer 2009): 3-5

“Education as an Emotional Experience: Reflections of a Teacher,” Schools: Studies in Education. Volume 3, Issue 2 (October 2006): 31-50.

“Claves para Ser Un Pais de Emprendedores,” Empresas COPEC, No. 55 (April 2004).

Co-author with Suzanne Berger, “Globalization and Il Caso Italiano,” Daedalus, Volume 130, No. 3 (Spring 2001).


How waiting longer for an iPhone could help workers Editorial. South China Morning Post October 18, 2012.

"Hands off of Vale." Editorial. Folha de Sao Paulo 29 March 2011.


Proseminar in Comparative Politics

Wed 9:00-11:20

Comparative Politics Graduate Research Workshop 1

Every other Wed 5:00-6:30

Talks & Media

“From Apple to Nike: Making Globalization Work for All"  presented at:

  • University of Connecticut, Annual Economic and Social Rights Lecture, February 23, 2015

 “The Global Garment Industry Post Rana Plaza. What Works?" presented at:

  • ILO/IFC Better Work Program’s Global Buyers Forum, New York City, November 3, 2014

 “Promoting Labor Standards in Global Supply Chains: What Works Well, Not so Well, and What Can Universities Do?” presented at:

  • University of Michigan Global Human Rights and Labor Standards Forum, October 10, 2014

“Buying with a Conscience – Garments Made in Bangladesh?” presented at:

  • University of Manchester, United Kingdom, May 19, 2014

 “Social Rights and Labor in Middle-Income Families” presented at:

  • The Penn Program on Democracy, Citizenship, and Constitutionalism conference “Work & the Social Rights of Citizenship in the 21st Century at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, May 9, 2014

“The Promise and Limits of Private Power: Promoting Labor Standards in a Global Economy” presented at:

  • Brown University, Parents Day Week-End Forum, October 25, 2014.
  • Northwestern University, Department of Political Science, October 23, 2014.
  • Providence Council for Foreign Relations, Providence, RI, June 24, 2014.
  • Brown University, Commencement Week-End Forum, May 24, 2014.
  • University of California Berkeley, Political Science Department, April 4, 2014.
  • GAP Headquarters, San Francisco, CA, January 29, 2014.
  • U.S. Department of Labor, Washington, D.C., January 21, 2014.
  • McKinsey and Company, Boston office, January 17, 2014.
  • Center for Responsible Enterprise and Trade, Washington, DC, June 5, 2013.
  • Council for Foreign Relations, New York City, June 11, 2013
  • Watson Institute for International Studies, Brown University, April 29, 2013
  • United States Council for International Business, Washington, DC., October 10, 2013.
  •  Risk and Regulation Seminar, The University of Pennsylvania Law School, December 3, 2013.

“Adversity Generates Opportunity: Relaunching Growth in Italy’s Economy,” presented at

  • conference on “Italy in Crisis,” Watson Institute for International Studies, Brown University, October 30, 2013.

“Manufacturing in the Innovation Economy”  presented at

  • National Academy of Sciences on the Production in the Innovation Economy Report Washington, DC, February 22, 2013.
  • Keidanren, Keizai Koho Center & MIT-Japan Program Symposium, Japan, March 28, 2013.

“How Have Supply Chains Changed?”  presented at

  • University of Washington Forum on the Transformation of Supply Chains, Cambridge, MA, March 8, 2013.

“Beyond Compliance: Promoting Labor Standards in Global Supply Chains”  presented at

  • Maturity in Supply Chain Responsibility, Stanford, CA, March 8, 2012.
  • Society for the Advancement of Socio-Economics (SASE), 24th Annual Meeting,Cambridge, MA, June 28, 2012.
  • World Bank, Washington, DC, June 21, 2012.

“Our Challenge and Opportunity”  presented at

  • United States’ Department of State’s Roundtable –“Safeguarding Intellectual Property and Preventing Corruption in Global Markets.” Washington, DC, May 2, 2012.

“High Impact Entrepreneurial Development in Puerto Rico”  presented at

  • Puerto Rico Conference — “Revitalizaing Innovation.” San Juan, PR, March 28, 2012.


“This is Watson" 
An introduction to the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University, September 2014. watch

“The Creative Mind: Richard M. Locke" 
Locke's research explores the complexity of securing ethical labor practices in a globalized economy, and he has intensively studied the efficacy of various strategies for improving worker conditions at factories of international corporations like Nike, HP, and Apple. Part of The Creative Mind Initiative — Brown University 250th Anniversary Conversations, July 2014. watch

“From Apple to Nike: Making Globalization Work for All" 
presented at the Brown University Commencement Forum, May 2014. watch

“Richard M. Locke Book Panel — The Promise and the Limits of Private Power" 
presented at the Watson Institute, April 2013. watch

News|Recent News

From College Hill to Capitol Hill: Reflections on the Rewards and Challenges of Politics, Policy and Public Service

April 27, 2015

On April 22nd 2015, Congressman David Cicilline '83 and Richard Locke, the Director of the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown discussed a range of foreign policy issues, including Congressman Cicilline's recent experience on a Congressional delegation to Cuba and his thoughts on the impact of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's address to Congress, ISIS, and the draft US-Iran deal. The pair also talked about how Congressman Cicilline's experiences at Brown and as a state legislator and mayor of Providence helped lead him to Capitol Hill. 


Watson Institute to host screening of Holbrooke film April 28

April 8, 2015 News from Brown

The Watson Institute for International Studies will host a screening of the HBO documentary film The Diplomat, about the life and legacy of former U.S. Ambassador Richard C. Holbrooke. The screening, to be followed by a conversation with Holbrooke’s son David, who directed the film, journalist David Rohde, and Richard Locke, director of the Watson Institute, begins at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 28, 2015, in the Salomon Center.


Professor Richard Locke, Annual Economic and Social Rights Lecturer

March 4, 2015 Human Rights Institute, Blog

Monday, February 23rd, The Annual Economic and Social Rights Lecture was delivered by Dr. Richard Locke, the Howard R. Sweater Director of the Watson Institute for International Studies and a professor of political science and public and international affairs at Brown University. 


Better Labor Conditions Require Both Good Policy and Effective Policing

December 22, 2014

A recent BBC documentary revealed harsh working conditions in Taiwanese factories owned by Pegatron, a major supplier of Apple iPhone and iPads. Commenting in the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times, Richard Locke, director of the Watson Institute and chair of the Apple Academic Advisory Board, commended Apple for its efforts to improve labor conditions across its supply chain, and said that effective policing was often the issue.