Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs
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Alexander Cooley – Ranking the World: Grading States as a Tool of Global Governance

Thursday, October 29, 2015

4 p.m.

McKinney Conference Room

Alexander Cooley, Director of the Harriman Institute at Columbia University and Professor of Political Science at Barnard College, will discuss Ranking the World: Grading States as a Tool of Global Governance.

Over the last decade, international rankings have emerged as a critical tool used by international actors engaged in global governance. State practices and performance are now judged by a number of high-profile indices, including assessments of their levels of corruption, quality of democracy, creditworthiness, media freedom, and business environment. However, these rankings always carry value judgments, methodological choices, and implicit political agendas. This volume expertly addresses the important analytical, normative, and policy issues associated with the contemporary practice of 'grading states'. The chapters explore how rankings affect our perceptions of state performance, how states react to being ranked, why some rankings exert more global influence than others, and how states have come to strategize and respond to these public judgments. The book also critically examines how treating state rankings like popular consumer choice indices may actually lead policymakers to internalize questionable normative assumptions and lead to poorer, not improved, public policy outcomes.

Discussant: Jeff Colgan, Richard Holbrooke Assistant Professor of Political Science and International Studies

Moderator: Mark Blyth, Eastman Professor of Political Economy and Professor of International and Public Affairs

For more background on the talk see https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/2015-10-20/rank-has-its-privileges.

Taubman Center for American Politics and Policy
Political Economy and Labor Seminar