Noel P. Johnston

ChASS New faculty

ChASS New faculty

Assistant Professor
Watkins Hall
(951) 827-5597

Dr. Noel Pereyra Johnston’s research explores the structure of compliance in the global political economy. With particular focus on foreign investment and international trade, his research touches on topics including international institutions, globalization, development, and the politics of international property rights. From 2013-2016, Dr. Johnston was a postdoctoral research fellow at the Blavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford, and Research Fellow of Nuffield College. Prior to doctoral studies in Political Science at Washington University in St. Louis, he did graduate work in Global Affairs at Rutgers University and earned a B.S. in Physics, Astronomy and a B.A. in English Literature from the University of Washington in Seattle.

Dr Johnston is currently engaged in a variety of ongoing research projects at various stages of completion. Most involve foreign investment and compliance with international property rights, or international trade preferences. Below are the research questions, designs, and main findings for a selection of these projects.


Occupation and the Political Economy of Trade: Job Routineness, Offshorability and Protectionist Sentiment (with Erica Owen).
International Organization (forthcoming) (2017)

Summary: New research in economics suggests that the distributional consequences of trade may no longer fall along factor or industry lines, but rather across occupations. Political scientists, despite copious work to understand how factor endowments and industry asset-specificity affect attitudes towards trade, have yet to clarify how occupation-based concerns, such as offshoring, affect tradepreferences. We use regression analysis to argue that the likelihood of being offshored, and thus of exposure to wage-reducing liberalization effects, is equivalent to the tradability of one’s occupation weighted by the task-based comparative advantage of that occupation.

How Sovereigns Steal: Political Constraints and the Choice Between Transfer and Expropriation Rents (with Benjamin Graham and Allison Kingsley).
Journal of Conflict Resolution (forthcoming) (2017)

Summary: Using game theory and regression analysis, we argue that even constrained governments seize assets from foreign investors; they just do so via a technical (and little studied) type of seizure, which places restrictions on the repatriation of capital. We offer a new dataset from the political risk insurance industry.

A Unified Model of Political Risk (with Benjamin Graham and Allison Kingsley).
Advances in Strategic Management (AiSM) 34: 119-160. (2016)

Summary: Traditional analysis of political risk looks at one risk (expropriation) and one type of investor (FDI). Using game theory, we build a unified model, including three types of risk (expropriation, war, and transfer) and four types of foreign investment (FDI, bank debt, portfolio investment, and portfolio flows). We demonstrate that, without taking a more general approach to political risk, even simple insights may go unseen in a piecemeal analysis.

Improving Reputation BIT by BIT: Bilateral Investment Treaties, Domestic Institutions, and Foreign Accountability (with Chia-yi Lee).
International Interactions 42 (3): 429-451. (2016)

Summary: Do BITs with powerful countries send a more informative signal to investors? Using regression analysis, we argue that signing a BIT with a powerful country can increase investment flows without altering domestic protection for investor property rights.

Can Public Goods Work As Vote-Purchasing Devices? Persuasion vs. Mobilization Under Clientelism (with Guillermo Rosas and Kirk Hawkins).
Journal of Theoretical Politics 26 (4): 573-598. (2014)

Summary: We generalize the study of clientelism to include the choice of providing either public or private goods. Using decision theory and regression analysis, we argue that clientelist politicians will allocate public goods to loyal voters and private goods to weak supporters.

Political Risk, Reputation, and the Resource Curse (with Nathan Jensen).
Comparative Political Studies 44 (6): 662-688. (2011)

Summary: How does resource wealth affect the likelihood of expropriation? Using game theory and regression analysis, we argue that natural resource wealth increases the risk that governments will seize assets from foreign investors.


Book Project: The Politics of Compensation for Expropriation (Work in Progress)

Summary: Introducing the compensation phenomenon to IR. Why do governments pay compensation after expropriating foreign investment? Using game theory, regression analyses, interviews, surveys, and case studies, the book provides a holistic picture of the understudied phenomenon, and the political and economic institutions that affect its evolution.

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