Timothy Bartley

Professor of Sociology
PhD, University of Arizona
research interests:
  • Transnational Governance
  • Regulation
  • Social Movements
  • Institutional Theory
  • Corporate Social Responsibility
  • Global Political Economy and Governance
  • Environmental and Sustainability Standards
  • Labor and Labor Standards
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contact info:

mailing address:

  • Washington University
  • CB 1112
  • One Brookings Dr.
  • St. Louis, MO 63130
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Professor Bartley’s areas of specialization include global political economy and governance, environment and sustainability standards, and work and labor standards. 

After earning his doctorate at the University of Arizona, Bartley joined the faculty at Indiana University.  He has also held visiting scholar positions at Princeton University’s Niehaus Center for Globalization and Governance, Sun Yat-Sen University (Guangzhou, China), the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies (Köln, Germany), and MIT. He served as associate professor at Ohio State University before moving to Wash. U. in 2017.

Bartley's most recent book, Rules without Rights: Land, Labor, and Private Authority in the Global Economy, was published by Oxford University Press in 2018.

Rules without Rights: Land, Labor, and Private Authority in the Global Economy

Rules without Rights: Land, Labor, and Private Authority in the Global Economy

Activists have exposed startling forms of labor exploitation and environmental degradation in global industries, leading many large retailers and brands to adopt standards for fairness and sustainability. This book is about the idea that transnational corporations can push these standards through their global supply chains, and in effect, pull factories, forests, and farms out of their local contexts and up to global best practices. For many scholars and practitioners, this kind of private regulation and global standard-setting can provide an alternative to regulation by territorially-bound, gridlocked, or incapacitated nation states, potentially improving environments and working conditions around the world and protecting the rights of exploited workers, impoverished farmers, and marginalized communities. But can private, voluntary standards actually create meaningful forms of regulation? Are forests and factories around the world actually being made into sustainable ecosystems and decent workplaces? Can global norms remake local orders?

This book provides striking new answers by comparing the private regulation of land and labor in democratic and authoritarian settings. Case studies of sustainable forestry and fair labour standards in Indonesia and China show not only how transnational standards are implemented 'on the ground' but also how they are constrained and reconfigured by domestic governance. Combining rich multi-method analyses, a powerful comparative approach, and a new theory of private regulation, Rules without Rights reveals the contours and contradictions of transnational governance.

Looking behind the Label: Global Industries and the Conscientious Consumer

Looking behind the Label: Global Industries and the Conscientious Consumer

What does it mean when consumers "shop with a conscience" and choose products labeled as fair or sustainable? Does this translate into meaningful changes in global production processes? To what extent are voluntary standards implemented and enforced, and can they really govern global industries? Looking behind the Label presents an informative introduction to global production and ethical consumption, tracing the links between consumers' choices and the practices of multinational producers and retailers. Case studies of several types of products―wood and paper, food, apparel and footwear, and electronics―are used to reveal what lies behind voluntary rules and to critique predominant assumptions about ethical consumption as a form of political expression.