Jennifer Noveck, Ph.D.

University of Washington

City: Bellingham, Washington

Country: United States

About Me:

I received my Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Washington (2017) and have ten years of experience in political economy research specializing in labor issues in global supply chains, regulatory reform, decentralization, rule of law, corruption, and social accountability in developing countries. I have also been a consultant for the World Bank and has three years of field experience in China, Japan, and Southeast Asia. My language development and research has been supported by numerous grants and scholarships, including a Fulbright Fellowship, Critical Language Scholarship, Foreign Language and Area Studies Scholarship, and a Fritz/Boeing Fellowship. I have previously been an instructor at the University of Washington where I developed and taught courses on Comparative Politics, Labor Rights in the Global Economy, and the Political Economy of Development. In Winter 2018, I am teaching Globalization and International Political Economy, as an instructor, with the Political Science department at Western Washington University. 

Research Interests

Asian Politics

Comparative Political Institutions


Political Economy

Research Methods & Research Design

Gender and Politics

Rule Of Law

Business And Politics


Comparative Political Economy

Politics Of Development

Labour Standards

Countries of Interest






My Research:

My research broadly is on topics related to rule of law (corruption, enforcement, compliance) and economic development. I have done research on many countries, including Bangladesh, China, Indonesia, Japan, Vietnam, Honduras, Argentina, Sierra Leone, and the United States. Additonally, much of my work is at the industry (garments, electronics, footwear, beer) or firm-level (Alta Gracia, Apple, Levi Strauss, and Nike). I am particularly interested in why governments are unable to enforce laws that would protect workers, citizens, and/or consumers, in particular labor laws and food healthy and safety laws.My doctoral dissertation incorporated many of these issues and examines the political economy of food regulation and safety in Mainland China. I use an industry and firm-level approach, with a focus on the food and beverage industry and the nascent Chinese craft brewing industry in particular. Within this context, I argue that when property rights are insecure, regulations are opaque, and their enforcement partial and politicized, as is the case in the Chinese food and beverage industry, small businesses are forced to navigate the shifting sands of highly uncertain returns on their investment. Therefore, a small firm's profits, if not their survival, dependings on choosing a strategy vis-a-vis competitors that is adapted to the unique challenges posted by insecure property rights and capricious government officials. To be sure, when it comes to dealing with rivals, small firms must also worry about other firms' competitive advantage, including their ability to innovate, costs, pricing, and marketing strategies (Porter 2008). However, in the case of China, politics dictates the environment in which firms operate. 


Journal Articles:

(2015) Building Capacity, Building Rights? State Capacity and Labor Rights in Developing Countries., World Development

Building state capacity has often been hailed as a cure-all for the ailments of the developing world and has been linked to human rights improvements, economic development, and the enforcement of property rights. Low state capacity, on the other hand, has been viewed as one of the primary impediments to improvements of labor rights and other social justice issues. We examine the relationship between state capacity and the protection of labor rights in panels of 85 developing countries, and 34 “supply-chain-relevant” countries. We find that changes in state capacity are only associated with changes in labor rights in countries where workers’ interests are better represented in the political system – measured alternately as left party power, democracy, union density, and potential labor power. Our findings highlight the importance of combinations of state capacity and political will in leading to improved rights of workers in global supply chains.

Books Written:

(2015) Labor Standards in International Supply Chains: Aligning Rights and Incentives., Edward Elgar

Labor Standards in International Supply Chains examines developments in working conditions over the past thirty years. The authors analyze the stakeholders and mechanisms that create challenges and opportunities for improving labor rights around the world, in sectors including apparel, footwear and electronics. Extended examples from China, Honduras, Bangladesh and the United States, as well as new quantitative evidence, illustrate the complex dynamics within and among key groups, including brands, suppliers, governments, workers and consumers.