Watson Institute at Brown University
International and Public Affairs
Richard M. Locke

Richard M. Locke

+1 401 863 2706
111 Thayer Street, Room 326


Downloadable CV

Richard M. Locke

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

Areas of Interest: Globalization and labor standards, global supply chains, sustainability.


Richard M. Locke was appointed Brown University's 13th provost in July 2015.  

Locke  is an internationally respected scholar and authority on international labor rights, comparative political economy, employment relations, and corporate responsibility.  Working with leading firms like Nike, Coca Cola, Apple, and HP, Locke and his students have demonstrated how corporate profitability and sustainable business practices can be reconciled. 

He is the author of five books: Production in the Innovation Economy (The MIT Press, 2014, with Rachel Wellhausen); The Promise and Limits of Private Power: Promoting Labor Standards in a Global Economy (Cambridge University Press, 2013); Working in America (The MIT Press, 2001, with Paul Osterman, Thomas Kochan, and Michael Piore);Employment Relations in a Changing World Economy (The MIT Press, 1995, with Thomas Kochan, Michael Piore); and Remaking the Italian Economy (Cornell University Press, 1995). For his ongoing research on fair and safe working conditions in global supply chains, Locke was named the 2005 Faculty Pioneer in Academic Leadership by The Aspen Institute. 

Prior to his arrival at Brown in 2013, Locke served for 25 years on the faculty at MIT, holding the Alvin J. Siteman Chair in Entrepreneurship and later the Class of 1922 Chair in Political Science and Management. Locke pioneered the Global Entrepreneurship Laboratory at MIT’s Sloan School of Management in 2000, for which he received the MIT Class of 1960 Teaching Innovation Award in 2007 and the Jamieson Prize for Excellence in Teaching in June 2008. He also served as chair of the MIT Political Science Department and deputy dean in the Sloan School of Management.

Locke earned his Bachelor of Arts from Wesleyan University, a Master of Arts in education at the University of Chicago, and a Ph.D. in political science, with a specialty in political economy, at MIT. He has held visiting faculty positions in Italy, Germany, the United Kingdom, and Brazil and has received fellowships from the German Marshall Fund, the Social Science Research Council, the Hewlett Foundation, and the Sloan Foundation. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and in September 2016, the Society for Progress awarded Locke with an inaugural Progress Medal for Scholarship and Leadership on Fairness and Well-being. He is a member of the ILO-IFC Better Work Program Advisory Committee, and from 2013-2016, he served as chair of the Apple Academic Advisory Board, a group of independent academics who worked with Apple to improve labor conditions among the company's suppliers.


The Future of Work

Building upon Locke's past research on the introduction of new work practices, this new research project seeks to understand how companies implement automation technologies in the workplace. The objective is to identify the conditions under which automation leads to good outcomes for workers, such as increased worker autonomy and job security.

There are competing visions of how the “future of work” will look for workers. Technology-focused research has described how new technologies can make work safer, less stressful, and more interesting. But these same automation technologies also have the potential to displace significant numbers of workers. It remains unclear exactly what types of jobs – and how many – these technologies might replace. New technologies have been associated with gains in income and employment for high-skilled workers, but the "hollowing out" of middle-class jobs. Locke's research sets out to understand how companies implement automation technologies in the workplace, with the goal of identifying the conditions under which automation leads to good outcomes for workers, such as increased worker autonomy and job security.


Richard Locke and Rachel Wellhausen, eds., Production in the Innovation Economy, Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press. 2014.

Richard Locke, The Promise and Limits of Private Power Promoting Labor Standards in a Global Economy, New York: Cambridge University Press. 2013.

Co-author with Paul Osterman, Thomas Kochan, Michael Piore, Working in America, Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press. 2001.

Richard Locke, Thomas Kochan, and Michael Piore, eds., Employment Relations in a Changing World Economy, Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press. 1995.

Richard Locke, Remaking the Italian Economy, Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press. 1995. Nominated for two American Political Science Association Book Awards: “The Best Book in Political Economy” Award and “The Gregory Luebbert Book” Award. Won “Outstanding Academic Books for 1995” by CHOICE magazine., Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press. 1995.

Additional articles:

Co-authored with Greg Distelhorst, “Labour standards in Asian export factories: Does compliance pay?” VoxDev, July 5, 2019.

Co-author with Greg Distelhorst, “Does Compliance Pay? Firm-level Trade and Social Institutions,”American Journal of Political Science, June 2018. Received American Political Science Association 2018 Dorothy Day Award for Outstanding Labor Research. 

Co-author with Hiram Samel, “Beyond The Workplace: "Upstream" Business Practices and Labor Standards in the Global Electronics Industry,” Studies in Comparative International Development, December 2017.•

Co-author with Greg Distelhorst and Jens Hainmueller, “Does Lean Improve Labor Standards? Management and Social Performance in the Nike Supply Chain,” Management Science, 2017, 63:3, 707-728.
Awarded the 2019 Distinguished Winner of the Responsible Research in Management Award.


• POLS 1200 Reimagining Capitalism (Fall 2019)

• POLS 2111 Comparative Politics Graduate Research Seminar (2019)

• POLS 2155 Political Economy of Labor and Development: The Future of Work (2018)