Fiona McGillivray

Fiona McGillivray

Associate Professor of Politics
Ph.D. 1995, (Political Science) University of Rochester; M.A. 1993, (Political Science) University of Rochester; B.A. (Hons) 1987, (Political Science: Comparative Politics) University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, Scotland.

Office Address:  NYU Department of Politics, 19 W. 4th Street, New York, NY 10012
For a full list of my work, see my Vita.

Areas of Research/Interest: Comparative politics, international relations, political economy.

Useful Links

Select Publications:

Book Publications

Privileging Industry: The Comparative Politics of Trade and Industrial Policy.

Princeton University Press. May 2004. Page proofs available on request.

International Trade and Political Institutions: Instituting Trade in the Long 19th Century.

Elgar Press (UK) 2001. Co-authors McLain, Pahre, Schonhardt-Bailey.

Refereed Articles

“Political Institutions, Coercive Diplomacy and the Duration of Sanctions”, coauthored with Allan Stam (Dartmouth). Forthcoming at the Journal of Conflict Resolution. April 2004.

“The Impact of Leadership Turnover on Relations between States”, coauthored with Alastair Smith (NYU). Forthcoming at International Organization 2004.

“Redistributive Policies and Stock Price Dispersion”, British Journal of Political Science 33:367-396. 2003.

“Trust and Cooperation through Agent-Specific Punishments”, coauthored with Alastair Smith (NYU). International Organization 55: 809-825. 2001.

“Democratizing the World Trade Organization”, Hoover Institution Policy Paper No 105. 2000.

“Party Discipline as a Determinant of the Endogenous Formation of Tariffs”, American Journal of Political Science, 41:2 1997.

"Institutional Determinants of Trade Policy", co-author Alastair Smith (Washington University). International Interactions, 23:119-43 1997. Winner of the Editorial Board Award for Excellence in Research for Volume 23.

Book Chapters

"How Voters Shape the Institutional Framework of International Negotiations", in Strategic Politicians, Institutions, and Foreign Policy. Randy Siverson, editor. University of Michigan Press. December 1997.


“Who Can be Trusted? Sovereign Debt and the Impact of Leadership Change’, coauthored with Alastair Smith (NYU). 2003.

“The Impact of Leadership Turnover and Domestic Institutions on International Cooperation in a Noisy World”, coauthored with Alastair Smith (NYU) 2003. Under review.

“The Coalition Poker Game and Stock Price Volatility”, 2003.

“Trading in a Free-Trade Area with No Rules of Origin: the US under the Articles of Confederation”, coauthored with Matt Green (Yale) 2001.

“Political Coalitions with Exogenously Chosen Policy Instruments”, 2001.

“Foreign Direct Investment, Federalism and Democracy”, coauthored with Nate Jensen (Washington University).


Privileging Industry: The Comparative Politics of Trade and Industrial Policy
Forthcoming 2004 with Princeton University Press

The goal of this book is to explain when governments use trade and industrial policy for political goals; and to show why aiding an industry can be a politically efficient way for government to redistribute from one group to another. This is one of the few books on trade and industrial policy that takes a comparative perspective. I explore how the electoral rule, party strength and industry geography affect redistributive politics across countries. The approach is two-fold. First, how do political institutions and industry geography interact to determine which industrial groups governments privilege. Second, given the lack of transparency in trade policy, what tests can be constructed to assess how governments distribute assistance across industrial groups. The extant literature focuses on factors affecting which industries legislators want to protect. But just as important is identifying which legislators are actually able to deliver trade assistance. Assisting an industry requires both a will and a means. Whether or not an industry is a good vehicle through which to redistribute income depends on the industry's geography and the electoral system. In turn, the electoral rule and party strength affect how legislators induced preferences are aggregated into policy. I test these arguments using a variety of empirical tests. In addition to using a tariff-based empirical test, the hypotheses are tested on different types of dependent variables such as the dispersion of stock prices within capital markets and government influence in the targeting of plant closures within declining industries. The key empirical innovation is the use of cross-national stock prices to study redistributive politics.

    The Impact of Leadership Turnover on Relations Between States

    Coauthored with Alastair Smith (NYU).
    Forthcoming 2004 International Organization
    Prepared for the 2002 Peace Science Society Meeting in Tucson Az.

    Abstract: We test how domestic political institutions moderate the effect of leadership turnover on relations between states. Deriving hypotheses from recent theoretical work, Bueno de Mesquita et al (2003) and McGillivray and Smith (2000), we examine how leader change affects trading relations between nations using dyadic trade data. Consistent with hypotheses, we find that large winning coalition systems, such as democracies, are relatively immune for the vagaries of leadership change. In such systems, trade remains relatively constant whether leader change occurs or not. In contrast, when winning coalition size is small, as in autocratic states, leadership change profoundly alters relations, causing a decline in trade. Finally we examine instances of poor relations, measured by a significant decline in trade compared to historical levels. As predicted, instances of poor relations are less common between pairs of democracies than other dyadic pairing. Further, leadership turnover in autocratic system restores trading relations between states. Again the effect of leadership change in democracies is much less pronounced.

    In Progress: Experiments in Leadership Trust and Cooperation.

    Co-researcher Alastair Smith

    Abstract: Through the use of experiments we examine whether groups of individuals act more cooperatively when decisions are taken between leaders for each group rather than when the individuals directly interact with each other. Our experiment has important implications for understanding patterns of international cooperation. We study how the institutional setting in which a leader represents individuals' interests affects the level and dynamic patterns of cooperation. In particular does varying the cost of leader removal influence the level of cooperation that can be maintained between two groups?

    The experiment is based on the formal modeling in “Trust and Cooperation Through Agent-Specific Punishments." Coauthored with Alastair Smith (Yale). International Organization 55: 809-825. 2001. These experiments will be carried out in the fall at the NYU Center for Experimental Social Science (CESS).

    Leadership Turnover and the Duration of Sanctions

    Coauthored with Allan Stam (Dartmouth)
    Forthcoming Journal of Conflict Resolution, April 2004.

    Abstract: We develop a model linking domestic political institutions to the duration of economic sanctions. Building on Smith's (1996) logic that sanctions are imposed for domestic political reasons, we argue that the decision to impose sanctions depends upon which domestic groups win representation in the sanctioning state; the duration of sanctions depends upon the persistence of this representation. We hypothesize that the higher the rate of political turnover in the sanctioning state, the shorter the average duration of sanctions. The duration of sanctions is predicted to be a linear function of regime type; the less politically accountable the sanctioning state, the longer the duration of sanctions. We also hypothesize that the presidential system in the United States is an exception to this rule. We fit a hazard model to a dataset of 56 sanction events with 363 observations. We find a monotonic relationship between regime types and sanction duration. The US aside, we find that the more accountable leaders are, and hence the shorter their average tenure in office, the shorter the duration of sanctions. We also find U.S. imposed sanctions last longest. The results are both substantively and statistically significant. We illustrate the political changeover mechanism in four cases: India-Nepal (1988-1990), Indonesia-Malaysia (1960-1966), Soviet Union-Yugoslavia (1948-1956) and US-Cuba (1960-present).

    Redistributive Politics and Stock Price Dispersion

    British Journal of Political Science 2003 33:367-369.

    Abstract: Cross-sectional time-series data from 14 stock markets, from 1973-1996, are used to study how comparative political institutions affect party governments’ incentives to enrich one group of industries at the expense of another. Using measures of cross-sectoral variance of price changes within stock markets as a proxy for change in redistributive policy, I show political change is important in both proportional representation (PR) and majoritarian systems. As parties shift in and out of government, trade and industrial policy is redistributed to favor the parties’ industrial supporters. Such changes in policy increase the cross-sectoral dispersion in price changes, with newly advantaged industries seeing their stock increase, while the price of those losing favorable policy declines. The temporal impact of redistribution differs across electoral systems, with the impact of political change being more immediate in majoritarian systems and the effect being more diffuse in PR systems. Majoritarian systems are also more responsive to economic shocks, while changes in economic conditions have few discernable effects on the dispersion of stock prices in PR countries. PR systems, however, experience overall higher levels of dispersion. I contrast these results with the dominant extant arguments of radical policy shifts in majoritarian systems and policy stability in PR systems.

    The Coalition Poker Game and Stock Price Volatility [Download]

    Presented at the 2003 Midwest Political Science Association Meeting.

    Abstract: This paper examines whether the stock market volatility surrounding a change in government is due to the political change itself, or to the heightened uncertainty from the coalition bargaining process. If the latter, is this uncertainty due to shifting expectations about the composition of the future coalition government, or is it simply because political uncertainty heightens irrational behavior among nervous investors? I use data from eight stock markets, from 1973~1996 to test these arguments.

    Who Can be Trusted? Sovereign Debt and Leadership Change [Download]

    Coauthored with Alastair Smith (NYU)

    Abstract: The institutional context in which leaders serve shapes their ability to acquire sovereign debt and the consequences of leadership change. When leaders are beholden to a large coalition of supporters to retain power, as in a democracy, leader removal is easy. If creditors refuse loans to sovereigns who default then the citizens remove leaders who default. Beyond providing a means to restore creditworthiness, this mechanism ensures office seeking leaders do not default in the first place. With the default risk being minimal, such sovereigns can borrow at favorable terms and leadership change has minimal impact on creditworthiness. In contrast, when leader removal is difficult, then sovereigns can default without jeopardizing their tenure in office. Without the institutional induced commitment to repay sovereign debt, creditworthiness depends upon economic conditions and characteristics of individual leaders. Nations with absolute leaders not only receive worse access to credit but also their creditworthiness shifts with leadership change. We test these hypotheses using sovereign debt bond indices for developing and developed nations.

    The Impact of Leadership Turnover and Domestic Institutions on International Cooperation in a Noisy World

    Coauthored with Alastair Smith. 2003

    Abstract: In the context of a noisy, continuous choice prisoners' dilemma we examine how leadership turnover and domestic institutions affect the depth and reliability of cooperative agreement that can be enforced between states through the use of "leader specific punishment" strategies. If foreign nations target punishments against leaders observed to cheat on cooperative arrangements (that is to say they refuse any future cooperation as long as the responsible incumbent remains in office) then citizens remove leaders caught cheating, providing the cost of doing so is less than the value of the cooperation foregone. For leaders who are easily replaced, being caught cheating cost them their job. Since cheating jeopardizes their tenure, such leaders can credibly commit to deeper and more reliable cooperation. We derive hypotheses about the patterns of cooperation and leadership turnover predicted under different institutional arrangements.

    Interested in Comparative Politics, International Relations and Political Economy.

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