Department of Political Science


Global Business Regulation

Course Code


Course Tutor

Dr Colin Provost (Department of Political Science)


One 3,000 word essay

Credit Value


About this course

This course is designed to help students understand how business regulation operates in a global economy. We examine why regulation moves from the domestic to the international level, who demands it, who supplies it, what effects international regulatory regimes have on domestic implementation of regulations and how we evaluate the overall effects of such regulations. Additionally, we examine how other institutions of the global economy, such as trade, investment and international courts affect business regulation at the international and domestic levels. Finally, we also look at the rise of corporate social responsibility (CSR) or “private regulation” as a result of the activities of businesses, NGOs and other global actors. Specifically, we look at CSR with respect to environmental and labour policies in global supply chains.  We examine all these questions in a variety of policy contexts, including environment, banking and finance, pharmaceuticals, labour markets, and food safety and labelling, among others.

Among the questions we will examine in this course:

  • Does international trade cause businesses to move to countries with weaker regulatory standards? Does it cause developed nations to weaken their own regulatory standards?
  • What is the effect of multi-national business investment in developing countries?
  • Why do some multi-national firms join voluntary regulatory organisations? Are such organisations effective regulatory bodies?
  • What effect do courts, such as the World Trade Organisation, the European Court of Justice and the U.S. Supreme Court have on global business regulation?
  • Can global regulatory standards reduce human rights violations in authoritarian, developing countries?
  • What effect does privatisation have on international and domestic regulatory standards? What is the effect of state-owned enterprises?
  • How does globalization enable the creation and maintenance of tax havens?  What can be done to reduce the spread of tax avoidance and money laundering?
  • What do populist movements (ie Brexit/Trump) tell us about globalization and what impact do they have on the global economy? 

By the end of the course, students should be able to understand how global regulations and regulatory bodies are constructed, how they influence domestic regulations, and how multi-national firms shape the construction of such global regulations. Students will be able to understand how trade, investment and regulation combine to shape the global public policy environment. Students will also understand global governance more broadly, with its many constellations of private and public actors. Finally, students will learn skills in analysis and critical thinking, both through course readings and the assessed essay.  Such skills will be applied in the course as we examine theories in the context of contemporary affairs and events.