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Edward J. Balleisen, Professor of History and Associate Professor of Sanford School of Public Policy and Faculty Network Member of The Energy Initiative and Vice Provost of Interdisciplinary Studies

Edward J. Balleisen

My research and writing explores the historical intersections among law, business, politics, and policy in the modern United States, with a growing focus on the origins, evolution, and impacts of the modern regulatory state.  I have pursued a number of collaborative projects with historians and other social scientists who study regulatory governance in industrialized and industrializing societies.  I have also started an oral history project that examines regulatory policy-making, which involves extensive collaboration with Duke undergraduate and graduate students.

My most recent book is Fraud: An American History from Barnum to Madoff (Princeton University Press, 2017).  Economic duplicity has bedeviled American markets from the founding of the Republic.  In this wide-ranging history, I emphasize the enduring connections between capitalist innovation and business fraud, as well as the vexed efforts by private organizations and state agencies to curb the worst economic deceptions.  Placing recent fraud scandals in long-term context, I argue that we rely solely on a policy of caveat emptor at our peril; and that a mixture of public education, sensible disclosure rules, and targeted enforcement campaigns can contain the problem of business fraud.

A growing proportion of my writing engages interdisciplinary debates about the nature of regulatory policy more generally, as well as the evolution of dominant approaches to political economy in modern capitalist societies. This dimension of my scholarship led to the publication of Government and Markets: Toward a New Theory of Regulation (Cambridge University Press, 2010), which I edited along with the historian David Moss. This volume brings together several new conceptual approaches to regulatory governance from across the social sciences. It also lays out a wide-ranging research agenda for regulatory studies.  

In 2015, my sole-edited three-volume multidisciplinary research collection, Business Regulation, came out with Edward Elgar.  This collection includes a long introductory essay, “The Dialectics of Modern Regulatory Governance,” that conceptualizes the emergence of the modern regulatory state in the nineteenth-century and its evolution since then, often in response to powerful critiques from scholars and regulated businesses.  It then provides over 100 leading writings on key aspects of regulatory governance, with selections that range from 1869 to the 2010s, and from across the social sciences.

Along with Duke colleagues and collaborators Jonathan Wiener, Lori Bennear, and Kim Krawiec, I am also completing an interdisciplinary volume that examines when and how industrialized democracies reconfigure regulatory institutions in the aftermath of major crises.  This book, Policy Shock: Recalibrating Risk and Regulation after Oil Spills, Nuclear Accidents, and Financial Crises, will be published by Cambridge University Press in 2017.

From 2010 through 2015, I directed the Rethinking Regulation Project, sponsored by Duke's Kenan Institute for Ethics. Rethinking Regulation brings together faculty and graduate students from across the university who are interested in regulatory policy and strategies of regulatory governance. The group pursues ambitious collaborative research that brings undergraduate and graduate students into research teams linked to Duke's Bass Connections program, such as the 2015-16 team that investigated approaches to Retrospective Regulatory Review.  

I am especially interested in mentoring graduate students who wish to study the history of business-state relations, the regulatory state, business culture, political economy, and legal institutions. Although my research expertise lies particularly with American history from 1815 to the present, I have advised several graduate students who have pursued transnational dissertation topics, or who study other areas of the world. I am also now mentoring several graduate students in other social science disciplines.

Since 2015, I have served as Duke’s Vice Provost for Interdisciplinary Studies, working with university-wide institutes and initiatives to foster collaborative, interdisciplinary research, teaching, and engagement. In this capacity, I oversee Bass Connections, an innovative program that supports interdisciplinary, problem-centered research teams involving faculty, graduate students, and undergrads.  I am also the lead co-PI on Duke’s “Versatile Humanists” project, funded by a Next Generation Implementation grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.  Through this grant, we hope to improve the preparation of our doctoral students in the humanities to make a difference within and outside of academia. 

[last updated, 7/17]

Contact Info:
Office Location:  210 Carr Bldg, Durham, NC 27708
Office Phone:  (919) 684-2699
Email Address: send me a message
Web Pages:  https://duke.box.com/v/BalleisenCV7-17
https://bassconnections.duke.edu/

Education:

Ph.D.Yale University1995
M.Phil.Yale University1992
B.A.Princeton University1987
Specialties:

Legal History
Politics, Public Life and Governance
Economic and Business Cultures
United States and Canada
Research Interests:

Current projects: Policy Shock: The Impact of Crisis Events on Regulatory Decision-making, Regulatory Oral History Project, Reviewing Retrospective Regulatory Review

I explore the historical intersections among law, business, politics, and policy in the modern United States, with a growing focus on the origins, evolution and impacts of the modern regulatory state. My research increasingly involves collaboration with historians and other social scientists who study regulatory governance in industrialized and industrializing societies. I have also started to work on an oral history project that examines regulatory policy-making.

My first book, Navigating Failure: Bankruptcy and Commercial Society in Antebellum America (UNC Press, 2001), analyzed the social experience of business failure in the age of the self-made man, as well as the legal institutions that arose to cope with this endemic feature of the nineteenth-century economic landscape.

I am now completing a monograph on the evolution of anti-fraud regulations in the United States, from the early nineteenth century to the present. Tentatively entitled Business Fraud: An American History, the book focuses on responses to “organizational fraud” – deception committed by businesses against customers, investors, and other counterparties. I pay especially close attention to the relationship between governmental regulation of commercial marketing practices and various mechanisms of business “self-regulation,” a relationship powerfully influenced by shifting ideas about the capacity of American consumers and investors to look out for themselves. The book is under advance contract with Princeton University Press, and I hope that it will be out in late 2015

In recent years, I have also delved into interdisciplinary debates about the nature of regulatory policy more generally, as well as the evolution of dominant approaches to political economy in modern capitalist societies. This dimension of my scholarship led to the publication in 2010 of Government and Markets: Toward a New Theory of Regulation (Cambridge University Press, 2010), which I edited along with the historian David Moss. This volume brings together several new conceptual approaches to regulatory governance from across the social sciences. It also lays out a wide-ranging research agenda for regulatory studies. In 2015, a sole edited three-volume multidisciplinary research collection, Business Regulation, will be coming out with Edward Elgar.

Since 2010, I have directed the Rethinking Regulation Project, sponsored by Duke's Kenan Institute for Ethics, where I am also a senior fellow. This project brings together faculty and graduate students from across the university who are interested in regulatory policy and strategies of regulatory governance. For additional information, see: http://kenan.ethics.duke.edu/regulation/

I am especially interested in mentoring graduate students who wish to study the history of business-state relations, the regulatory state, business culture, political economy, and legal institutions. Although my research expertise lies particularly with American history from 1815 to the present, I have advised several graduate students who have pursued transnational dissertation topics, or who study other areas of the world. I am also now mentoring several graduate students in other social science disciplines.

[last updated, 12/14]

Keywords:

Business ethics • Business failures • Consumer protection • Culture and law • Policy Making • Regulation • Securities fraud--Law and legislation • Self-regulation • Social sciences and history

Curriculum Vitae
Current Ph.D. Students   (Former Students)

  • Anna Johns  
  • Arthur M. Fraas  
  • Fahad Bishara  
Representative Publications   (More Publications)

  1. E.J. Balleisen and D. Moss, eds., Government and Markets: Toward a New Theory of Regulation, edited by Balleisen, EJ; Moss, DA (New York: Cambridge UP, 2010), Cambridge University Press [available here]  [abs] [author's comments]
  2. Balleisen, EJ; Balleisen EJ, , Navigating Failure: Bankruptcy and Commercial Society in Antebellum America (March, 2001), University of North Carolina Press [book_detail]
  3. Balleisen, EJ, Scenes from a Corporate Makeover: Columbia/HCA and Heathcare Fraud, 1992-2001 (June, 2003), Fuqua School of Business, Duke University [repository]  [author's comments]
  4. E.J. Balleisen, Business Regulation, 3 volumes (2015), Elgar (A three-volume multi-disciplinary research collection, compiling leading writing on business regulation since 1870, with an extensive introduction.)
  5. Balleisen, EJ; Brake, EK, Historical Perspective and Better Regulatory Governance: An Institutional Agenda for Reform, Regulation & Governance, vol. 8 (2014), pp. 222-245 (published online as early view, 12-12; doi:10.1111/rego.12000.) [abstract], [doi]  [abs]
  6. Balleisen, EJ, Rights of Way, Red Flags, and Safety Valves: Regulated Business Self-Regulation in America, 1850-1940, in Regulierte Selbstregulierung in der westlichen Welt des späten 19. und frühen 20. Jahrhunderts / Regulated Self-Regulation in the Western World in the Late 19th and the Early 20th Century, edited by Collin, P; Bender, G; Ruppert, S; Seckelmann, M; Stolleis, M (2014), pp. 75-126, Klostermann [repository]
  7. Balleisen, EJ, Private Cops on the Fraud Beat: The Limits of American Business Self-Regulation, 1895-1932, Business history review, vol. 83 no. 01 (2009), pp. 113-160, ISSN 0007-6805 (This article won the 2009 Henrietta Larson prize for the best article in Business History Review.) [displayAbstract], [doi]  [abs]
Selected Other

  1. Convener, "Rethinking Regulation," Interdisciplinary Faculty Seminar, 2010-13, Kenan Institute for Ethics [available here]    
  2. Founder and Co-Convener, Triangle Legal History Seminar, 2006 - present [available here]    
Selected Grant Support

  • Thomas McCraw Fellowship in United States Business History, Harvard University.      
  • Rethinking Regulation, Duke University Provost's Office.      
  • Rule of Law in World History, 2009-11, Teagle Foundation, Inc..      
  • Course Development Grant for Modern Regulatory State, Provost's Undergraduate Team-Teaching Initiative.      
  • Tobin Project Fellowship, 2007, The Tobin Project.      
  • Burckhardt Fellowship, American Council of Learned Societies.      


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