Dr Leonardo Baccini joined the LSE IR Department in July 2012 as a Lecturer in International Relations. He introduces himself here:
I am a new Lecturer in International Political Economy at the LSE IR Department since July 2012. Before joining LSE, I was an associate research fellow at Princeton University, and have also been an assistant professor at IMT Lucca and a post-doctoral fellow at NYU.
My main research interests are in the area of the political economy of international trade with a focus on issues related to development and international cooperation. My general research approach is to explore the role of domestic institutions and interest groups in explaining economic policies in general, and trade policies in particular. In the field of development, in series of articles and in a book manuscript I have shown that the formation of EU and US trade agreements is driven by the willingness of new leaders in developing countries to implement and lock in unpopular economic reforms. Specifically, by signing these agreements new leaders benefit from credible commitment and side payments to compensate vulnerable domestic constituencies for losses caused by policy changes. I have tested this thesis using a mixed method approach. In my work on international cooperation, I have shown that the diffusion of trade agreements and energy IGOs is driven by competition among exporters in countries with similar trade patterns.
Some of my future projects are a natural follow-up to my previous research. Specifically, with other colleagues I completed data collection on about 600 trade agreements signed from 1948 to present day. Using manual content analysis and statistical techniques to check coders’ reliability, the dataset includes measures on every dimension of the design of trade agreements, e.g., flexibility, coverage, commitments, trade integration, and delegation features. We are currently working on several papers that explain both the rational design of trade agreements and its effect on trade, quality of trade, and tariff reductions. I am also currently working on a project that explores the impact of interest groups in autocratic regimes. Specifically, using firm-level data, I aim to show how Vietnam’s accession to the WTO was heavily affected by the lobbying power of large firms in general, and large state-owned companies in particular. Finally, I continue to investigate issues related to policy diffusion. Specifically, I am working on explaining the diffusion of ILO core ratifications as a result of competition and socialization, showing how rationalism and constructivism can work hand in hand to protect labor rights.
On the other hand, part of my future research branches out into other fields of social science such as political behavior, experimental studies, and economic history. For instance, in a series of working papers I examine the effect of the Internet on voting behavior, attitudes towards EU policies related to current economic crises, and campaigns. I am also currently planning a field experiment to explore discrimination towards immigrants in the British and Italian real estate markets. A pilot experiment was run during the Olympics. Finally, I am developing an increasing interest in economic history. In particular, I am working on a project on social capital, public good provision, and mafia activities in Sicily.
My research output benefits hugely from co-authorships. So far, I have been working with scholars from (in rigorous alphabetic order) Austria, China, Finland, Germany, India, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, Russia, South Korea, Switzerland, and United States. More information on my published, forthcoming, and working papers is available here.