Edward J. Balleisen


My research and writing explores the historical intersections among law, business, politics, and policy in the modern United States, with a growing focus on the origins, evolution, and impacts of the modern regulatory state.  I have pursued a number of collaborative projects with historians and other social scientists who study regulatory governance in industrialized and industrializing societies.  I have also started an oral history project that examines regulatory policy-making, which involves extensive collaboration with Duke undergraduate and graduate students.

My most recent book is Fraud: An American History from Barnum to Madoff (Princeton University Press, 2017).  Economic duplicity has bedeviled American markets from the founding of the Republic.  In this wide-ranging history, I emphasize the enduring connections between capitalist innovation and business fraud, as well as the vexed efforts by private organizations and state agencies to curb the worst economic deceptions.  Placing recent fraud scandals in long-term context, I argue that we rely solely on a policy of caveat emptor at our peril; and that a mixture of public education, sensible disclosure rules, and targeted enforcement campaigns can contain the problem of business fraud.

A growing proportion of my writing engages 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 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.  

In 2015, my sole-edited three-volume multidisciplinary research collection, Business Regulation, came out with Edward Elgar.  This collection includes a long introductory essay, “The Dialectics of Modern Regulatory Governance,” that conceptualizes the emergence of the modern regulatory state in the nineteenth-century and its evolution since then, often in response to powerful critiques from scholars and regulated businesses.  It then provides over 100 leading writings on key aspects of regulatory governance, with selections that range from 1869 to the 2010s, and from across the social sciences.

Along with Duke colleagues and collaborators Jonathan Wiener, Lori Bennear, and Kim Krawiec, I am also completing an interdisciplinary volume that examines when and how industrialized democracies reconfigure regulatory institutions in the aftermath of major crises.  This book, Policy Shock: Recalibrating Risk and Regulation after Oil Spills, Nuclear Accidents, and Financial Crises, will be published by Cambridge University Press in 2017.

From 2010 through 2015, I directed the Rethinking Regulation Project, sponsored by Duke's Kenan Institute for Ethics. Rethinking Regulation brings together faculty and graduate students from across the university who are interested in regulatory policy and strategies of regulatory governance. The group pursues ambitious collaborative research that brings undergraduate and graduate students into research teams linked to Duke's Bass Connections program, such as the 2015-16 team that investigated approaches to Retrospective Regulatory Review.  

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. I am also now mentoring several graduate students in other social science disciplines.

Since 2015, I have served as Duke’s Vice Provost for Interdisciplinary Studies, working with university-wide institutes and initiatives to foster collaborative, interdisciplinary research, teaching, and engagement. In this capacity, I oversee Bass Connections, an innovative program that supports interdisciplinary, problem-centered research teams involving faculty, graduate students, and undergrads.  I am also the lead co-PI on Duke’s “Versatile Humanists” project, funded by a Next Generation Implementation grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.  Through this grant, we hope to improve the preparation of our doctoral students in the humanities to make a difference within and outside of academia. 

[last updated, 7/17]

Education & Training

  • Ph.D., Yale University 1995

  • M.Phil., Yale University 1992

  • B.A., Princeton University 1987

Doctoral Training for the Versatile Humanist awarded by National Endowment for the Humanities (Principal Investigator). 2016 to 2019

Balleisen, EJ. Fraud: An American History from Barnum to Madoff. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, February 1, 2017. (Monograph) Open Access Copy

Business Regulation. Edited by EJ Balleisen. June 2015.

Balleisen, EJ. Business Regulation (3 volumes). Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing, 2015. (Edited Book)

Government and Markets: Toward a New Theory of Regulation. Edited by EJ Balleisen and DA Moss. Cambridge University Press, 2009. (Edited Book)

Balleisen, EJ. Scenes from a Corporate Makeover: Columbia/HCA and Heathcare Fraud, 1992-2001. Durham, NC: Fuqua School of Business, Duke University, June 2003. (Monograph) Open Access Copy

Balleisen, EJ, and Balleisen EJ, . Navigating Failure: Bankruptcy and Commercial Society in Antebellum America. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, March 2001.

Balleisen, EJ. "Review of "Freaks of Fortune: The Emerging World of Capitalism and Risk in America" by Jonathan Levy." American Historical Review, no. 118 (2013): 1182-1184.

Balleisen EJ, . "Review essay on "Andrew Carnegie" by David Nasaw and "Mellon: An American Life" by David Cannadine." Historically Speaking 9, no. Jan/Feb (2008): 39-43.

Balleisen EJ, . "Review essay on "Calculating Promises: The Emergence of Modern American Contract Doctrine" by Roy Kreitner." Law and Politics Book Review 17 (August 2007): 705-712.

Balleisen EJ, . "Review of "Born Losers: A History of Failure in America" by Scott Sandage." Journal of the Early Republic 26 (2006): 139-142.

Balleisen EJ, . "Review of "Debt’s Dominion: A History of Bankruptcy Law in America" by David Skeel." Law and History Review 22 (2004): 190-191.


Balleisen, EJ. "The Dialectics of Modern Regulatory Governance." In Business Regulation, xvi-xcviii. Cheltenham: Elgar Publishing, 2015. (Introduction) Open Access Copy

Balleisen, EJ. "Rights of Way, Red Flags, and Safety Valves: Regulated Business Self-Regulation in America, 1850-1940." In Regulierte Selbstregulierung in der westlichen Welt des späten 19. und frühen 20. Jahrhunderts / Regulated Self-Regulation in the Western World in the Late 19th and the Early 20th Century,edited by P Collin, G Bender, S Ruppert, M Seckelmann, and M Stolleis, 75-126. Frankfurt am Main: Klostermann, 2014. Open Access Copy

Balleisen, EJ. "Building a Doctoral Program in Business History." In Teaching Business History: Insights and Ideas, 54-67. 2012.

Balleisen, EJ, and Moss, DA. "Introduction." In Government and Markets: Toward a New Theory of Regulation, 1-10. January 1, 2009. Full Text

Balleisen, EJ. "The prospects for effective coregulation in the United States: A historian's view from the early twenty - first century." In Government and Markets: Toward a New Theory of Regulation, 443-481. January 1, 2009. Full Text

Balleisen, EJ, and Moss, DA. "Toward a new theory of regulation: A research agenda for the future." In Government and Markets: Toward a New Theory of Regulation, 538-544. January 1, 2009. Full Text

Balleisen, EJ, and Eisner, M. "The Promise and Pitfalls of Co-Regulation: How Governments Can Draw on Private Governance for Public Purpose." In New Perspectives on Regulation,edited by D Moss and J Cisternino, 127-149. Cambridge, MA: The Tobin Project, 2009.

Balleisen, EJ. "Conclusion." In Government and Markets: Toward a New Theory of Regulation,edited by E Balleisen and D Moss, 538-544. Cambridge University Press, 2009.

Balleisen, EJ. "Bankruptcy and Bondage: The Ambiguities of Economic Freedom in the Civil War Era." In The Problem of Evil: Slavery, Freedom, and the Ambiguities of American Reform,edited by S Mintz, R Forbes, and J Stauffer, 276-286. Amherst: University of Massachussetts Press, 2007. (Essay)

Allen, JP, and Knaff, DB. "Introduction." 1-2. July 2005. Full Text


Balleisen, EJ, and Brake, EK. "Historical Perspective and Better Regulatory Governance: An Institutional Agenda for Reform." Regulation & Governance 8 (2014): 222-245. Full Text

Balleisen, EJ. "The ambiguities of business fraud and entrepreneurial reputation in progressive-era america." Business History Review 87, no. 4 (December 1, 2013): 627-629. Full Text

Balleisen, EJ. "The Global Financial Crisis and Responsive Regulation: Some Avenues for Historical Inquiry." University of British Columbia Law Review 44 (2011): 557-587.

Balleisen, EJ. "Private Cops on the Fraud Beat: The Limits of American Business Self-Regulation, 1895-1932." Business History Review 83, no. 01 (March 2009): 113-160. Full Text

Balleisen, EJ. "The Marketplace of Revolution: How Consumer Politics Shaped American Independence." Business History Review 79, no. 02 (June 2005): 353-363.

Balleisen, EJ. "Bankruptcy and the Entrepreneurial Ethos in Antebellum American Law." Australian Journal of Legal History 8, no. 1 (December 2004): 61-82. (Academic Article) Open Access Copy

Balleisen, EJ. "Legal History on the Web." (2008).

Balleisen, EJ. Navigating Failure: Bankruptcy in Antebellum America. 1995. (PhD Thesis)

Balleisen, EJ. "An Education They Won’t Forget." Duke Magazine 101, no. Special Issue (2015): 38-39.

Balleisen, EJ. "Submitting Proposals to the Business History Conference: A Guide to the Process." The Business History Conference (April 2014).

Balleisen, EJ. "The First 'Voice of Wall Street' A Study in Risk." Echoes Business History Blog, Bloomberg News (June 22, 2012). (Blog)

Balleisen, EJ. "Building a Doctoral Program in Business History." Edited by W Friedman and G Jones. Teaching Business History: Insights and Debates (2012): 54-67.

Balleisen, EJ. "The Career Question in History." Perspectives (Magazine of the American Historical Association) 49 (2011): 20-22. (Academic Article)

Balleisen, EJ. "Regulation." The Oxford International Encyclopedia of Legal History (2009). (Essay)

Balleisen, EJ. "Bankrupt: Maxed out in America." American RadioWorks (April 2006). (Editorial Comment)

Balleisen, EJ. "Bankruptcy Bill Is Where It Belongs: Shelved." American Banker (December 7, 2001): 13-.