Elliot Posner

Elliot Posner
Résidents Labex RFIEA+
pas Eurias

dates de séjour

03/09/2018 - 01/02/2019


Sciences politiques

Fonction d’origine

Professeur associé

Institution d’origine

Department of Political Science, Case Western Reserve University (États-Unis)

pays d'origine


projet de recherche

Soft Law and International Ordering

Has the post-war international order finally met its match? Initially set up by the United States and its allies, the institutions at the order’s core seemed remarkably buoyant in the quarter century following the Cold War. Can they sustain order in a newly multipolar world and in the face of rising economic nationalism? Most of the existing research focuses on the durability of treaty-based international organizations, like the World Trade Organization with binding international “hard law” and dispute settlement mechanisms. Comparatively little research has been devoted to the vast and expanding web of less formal forums that rely on “soft law” (i.e. voluntary standards) and “enforcement” by peer review, monitoring, deliberation, bargaining and persuasion. The reliance on such non-binding standards and the forums that create them has proliferated and may be found in domains as disparate as the environment, food safety and data privacy. My research area – financial regulation – stands out as an exemplar case. While some praise voluntary governance for its potential flexibility and technical robustness, others worry that its ordering effects only pertain under conditions special to the late 20th century. Will non-treaty-based, voluntary institutions be a source of international stability or instability for the 21st century? For answers, the proposed research project will first turn to the European Union and then to international financial institutions. My suspicion is that the distribution of autonomy among national representatives is a key factor that determines when these kinds of forums work as ordering institutions and when they do not.


Elliot Posner’s research focuses on cooperation, soft law, regulatory power and new market formation in the global political arena. His publications on the politics of finance explore the internal sources of the EU’s external power, the changing terms of Transatlantic regulatory cooperation and the distributive effects of international soft law. Voluntary Disruptions: International Soft Law, Finance and Power (Oxford University Press, forthcoming), co-authored with Abraham Newman, is about the impact of non-binding financial regulatory agreements on the United States, the European Union and financial services industry groups. It investigates core theoretical topics about temporality, institutional context and power. The Origins of Europe’s New Stock Markets (Harvard University Press, 2009) is about the EU politics surrounding smaller company finance and venture capital. It addresses classic and new questions about the nature and origins of markets, their relationship to politics and bureaucracy, and institutional change and innovation. His articles and book chapters have appeared in the European Journal of International Relations, Journal of European Public Policy, International Organization, the Review of International Political Economy, World Politics and edited volumes. He is the recipient of a 2012 European Union Affairs Fulbright research grant and spent the 2011-12 academic year as a visiting scholar at Sciences-Po’s Centre d’études européenes in Paris and at Bruegel, a Brussels-based think tank.