I explore the historical intersections among law, business, culture, society, and politics in the modern United States. My first book, Navigating Failure: Bankruptcy and Commercial Society in Antebellum America (UNC Press, 2001), examined the social experience of business failure in the age of the self-made man, as well as the legal institutions that arose to cope with this endemic feature of the nineteenth-century economic landscape.
I am now completing a monograph on the evolution of anti-fraud regulations in the United States, from the early nineteenth century to the present. Tentatively entitled Suckers, Swindlers, and an Ambivalent State: A History of Business Fraud in America, the book focuses on responses to “organizational fraud” – deception committed by businesses against customers, investors, and other counterparties. I pay especially close attention to the relationship between governmental regulation of commercial marketing practices and various mechanisms of business “self-regulation,” a relationship powerfully influenced by shifting ideas about the capacity of American consumers and investors to look out for themselves.
In recent years, I have also delved into interdisciplinary debates about the nature of regulatory policy more generally, as well as the evolution of dominant approaches to political economy in modern capitalist societies. This dimension of my scholarship led to the publication in 2010 of Government and Markets: Toward a New Theory of Regulation (Cambridge University Press, 2010), which I edited along with the historian David Moss. This volume brings together several new conceptual approaches to regulatory governance from across the social sciences. It also lays out a wide-ranging research agenda for regulatory studies.
Since 2010, I have directed the Rethinking Regulation Project, sponsored by Duke's Kenan Institute for Ethics, where I am also a senior fellow. This project brings together faculty and graduate students from across the university who are interested in regulatory policy and strategies of regulatory governance. For additional information, see: http://kenan.ethics.duke.edu/regulation/about/rethinking-regulation/
I am especially interested in mentoring graduate students who wish to study the history of business-state relations, the regulatory state, business culture, political economy, and legal institutions. Although my research expertise lies particularly with American history from 1815 to the present, I have advised several graduate students who have pursued transnational dissertation topics, or who study other areas of the world.
[last updated, 12/12]
For a description, see: http://www.cambridge.org/us/catalogue/catalogue.asp?isbn=9780521118484
This interdisciplinary volume explores a range of new analytical approaches to the regulatory state, and puts forward a wide-ranging research agenda for regulatory studies.
Compared to economics, sociology, political science, and law, the discipline of history has had a limited role in the wide-ranging efforts to reconsider strategies of regulatory governance, especially inside regulatory institutions. This article explores how more sustained historical perspective might improve regulatory decisionmaking. We first survey how a set of American regulatory agencies currently rely on historical research and analysis, whether for the purposes of public relations or as a means of supporting policymaking. We then consider how regulatory agencies might draw on history more self-consciously, more strategically, and to greater effect. Three areas stand out in this regard – the use of history to improve understanding of institutional culture; reliance on historical analysis to test the empirical plausibility of conceptual models that make assumptions about the likelihood of potential economic outcomes; and integration of historical research methods into program and policy evaluation.
Four cases studies commissioned by Fuqua's Health Sector Management Program, for use in Business School courses.
A 7500-word essay on the history of American business regulation from the colonial period up to the present.
web gateway to legal history in cyberspace.