Area of Expertise
- Accounting - Globalization
- Business - Environment
- Corporate Social Responsibility
- Economic Regulation
- Energy Market
- International Governance
- Public Policy
My current research focuses on transnational governance arrangements to address cross-border policy challenges, in particular the setting of social and environmental standards for production in global value chains. I examine the roles and the interaction of public, private and civil society actors in these arrangements that range from loose networks to well-established multi-stakeholder organizations. How effective is this new type of transnational governance at improving business conduct? Which role do business firms and associations play in making business practices in global value chains more ‘responsible’? And what is the relationship between private governance by business and state regulation, especially in the Global South?
A second strand of research rooted in comparative public policy seeks to explain why jurisdictions converge or diverge in their policy responses when faced with similar problems or crises.
My earlier research contributed to the study of public policy in the European Union, with a special focus on transnational regulatory networks as governing device that balances national and supranational interests.
Empirically, my work has mainly focused on the energy and environment field while the regional focus has been on the European Union and Canada.
2014 'Excellence Initiative’ Research Visiting Professorship $6,000 (1 month) University of Konstanz (Germany)
2010, 2009, 2008 York University Merit Award ($2000)
2021 York Provostial Fellow
Eberlein, B. and Eckert, S. (2020), "Private Authority in Tackling Cross-border Issues: The Hidden Path of Integrating European Energy Markets", Journal of European Integration, 42(1), 59-75.
We investigate private authority in European Union (EU) energy governance in order to address two research questions: First, how has authority been conferred on, and acquired by private actors? Second, to what extent has this lateral shift of authority been contested and on which grounds? The paper links the literatures on regulatory governance and private authority. This allows us to shed light on an issue that tends to be neglected in the discussion about the transfer of competencies in the energy field: the horizontal transfer of authority. In our case study about the role of transmission system operators (TSOs) in the creation of an internal electricity market, we identify three distinct settings where both the level of sovereignty-based contestation and the shift towards private authority vary. We find that private rulemaking has gained in importance due to functional expertise requirements, but also because it provides an escape route in a context of political contestation.
Eberlein, B. and Marques, J.C. (2020), "Grounding Transnational Business Governance: A Political- Strategic Perspective on Government Responses in the Global South,", Regulation & Governance.Keywords
Recent scholarship on transnational business governance has begun to examine public‐private interactions and the active role of governments. We make two key contributions that integrate and expand this literature. First, in juxtaposition to functionalist accounts, we foreground the fundamentally political and often contentious character of these interactions. As private transnational governance schemes and standards “hit the ground,” private‐public interactions, we argue, are embedded in national political arenas and tied to domestic distributional struggles among competing regulatory coalitions. Building upon multiple empirical streams of research, we develop a political‐strategic framework that maps the diversity of Southern government responses (substitute, adopt, repurpose, replace, or reject) to transnational private governance. Our framework shows that government responses are a function of both strategic fit with domestic industrial capabilities and structures, and strength of developmental state capacity. Second, our proposed framework adopts the vantage point of Global South governments and industries, particularly how development challenges and strategic options within global value chains affect their understanding of, and responses to, transnational schemes and standards. This is an important corrective to a Northern bias in the private governance literature.
Eberlein, B., Emmenegger, P., Rinscheid, A. and Schneider, V. (2019), "Why do Junctures become critical? Political Discourse, Agency, and Collective Belief Shifts in Comparative Perspective", Regulation & Governance, 14(4), 653-673.
Why do junctures become critical in some cases but not in others? Building on the critical juncture framework and perspectives on the formation and diffusion of beliefs, we develop a theoretically parsimonious and empirically traceable account of divergence in institutional outcomes. By illuminating the role of agency and joint belief shifts we further open the “black box” of critical junctures. In particular, we develop the argument that the role agents play is conditioned by conflict lines that structure an institutional field before a juncture sets in. Empirically, we trace political discourses around the 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident in Canada, Germany, and Japan using discourse network analysis. Through comparative investigation, we empirically show that discursive interactions during potential critical junctures indicate institutional outcomes that are shaped by causally relevant historical legacies.
Eberlein, B. (2019), "Who fills the Global Governance Gap? Rethinking the Roles of Business and Government in Global Governance", Organization Studies, 40(8), 1-50.
Political CSR has made great strides towards a better appreciation of the political involvement of corporations in global governance. However, its portrayal of the shifting balance between business and government in the globalized economy rests on a central, yet largely uncontested, assumption: that of a zero-sum constellation of substitution in which firms take on public responsibilities to fill governance gaps left by governments. This conceptual paper expands the political CSR perspective and makes three contributions to the debate on the political role of business and the role of government in global governance. First, it deconstructs the problematic assumptions underlying the zero-sum notion of governance gaps filled by corporations. Second, it offers a variable-sum mapping of how private and public authority interact in global governance where substitution is only one of four constellations. The mapping identifies ‘soft steering’ as a prominent mode of governments governing business conduct. Third, the paper theorizes ‘orchestration’, a ‘soft steering’ tool discussed in the global governance literature, from an organizational, corporate perspective. It identifies the mechanisms through which orchestration may address the barriers to corporate engagement with the public good and applies these mechanisms to the case of the Global Reporting Initiative.
Abbott, K., Black, J., Eberlein, B., Meidinger, E. and Wood, S. (2015), "The Interactive Dynamics of Transnational Business Governance: A Challenge for Transnational Legal Theory", Transnational Legal Theory, 6(2), 333-369.Keywords
Conflict, convergence, cooperation and competition among governance actors and institutions have long fascinated scholars of transnational law, yet transnational legal theorists’ accounts of such interactions are for the most part tentative, incomplete and unsystematic. Having elsewhere proposed an overarching conceptual framework for the study of transnational business governance interactions (TBGI), in this article we propose criteria for middle-range theory-building. We argue that a portfolio of theoretical perspectives on transnational governance interactions should account for the multiplicity of interacting entities and scales of interaction; the co-evolution of social agency and structure; the multiple components of regulatory governance; the role of interactions as both influence and outcome; the diverse modes of interaction; the mechanisms and pathways of interaction; and the spatio-temporal dynamics of interaction. To suggest the value of these criteria, we apply them in a preliminary way to selected transnational legal scholarship and to the other articles in this special issue.
Abbott, K., Black, J., Eberlein, B., Meidinger, E. and Wood, S. (2014), "Transnational Business Governance Interactions: Conceptualization and Framework for Analysis", Regulation & Governance (Special Issue), 8(1), 1-21.
This special issue demonstrates the importance of interactions in transnational business governance. The number of schemes applying non‐state authority to govern business conduct across borders has vastly expanded in numerous issue areas. As these initiatives proliferate, they increasingly interact with one another and with state‐based regimes. The key challenge is to understand the implications of these interactions for regulatory capacity and performance, and ultimately for social and environmental impact. In this introduction, we propose an analytical framework for the study of transnational business governance interactions. The framework disaggregates the regulatory process to identify potential points of interaction, and suggests analytical questions that probe the key features of interactions at each point.
EMBA 6780 Global Strategy Project
INTL 1400 Responsible Business in an International Context
MGMT 4300 CSR in a Global Context
PUBL 4000 Government & Business
PUBL 6050 Managing for Public Purpose
PLCY 7900 Business, Society and Global Governance
MGMT 5260 Managing for Value Creation
PUBL 6150 Comparative Public Policy
INTL 5331 Regional Analysis (Europe)
Project Title Role Award Amount Year Awarded Granting Agency Project TitleGlobal sustainability standards in national context: comparing business-government relations in Argentina, Brazil and Canada RolePrincipal Investigator Award Amount$171,000.00 Year Awarded2021 Granting AgencySocial Sciences and Humanities Research Council - Insight Grant Project TitlePost-Fukushima Energy Policy: Canada and Germany Compared RolePrincipal Investigator Award Amount$3,500.00 Year Awarded2013 Granting AgencyOntario/Baden-Württemberg - Faculty Research Exchange Project TitleCompeting, Coordinating, Co-Opting...? Interactions in Transnational Business Regulation RoleCo-Investigator Award Amount$200,000.00 Year Awarded2011- Granting AgencySocial Sciences and Humanities Research Council - Partnership Development Grant Project TitleInternational Standard-Setting for Corporate Reporting: The Legitimacy of Private Global Governance and Congruence with Domestic Standard-Setting Processes RolePrincipal Investigator Award Amount$58,300.00 Year Awarded2010- Granting AgencySocial Sciences and Humanities Research Council - Standard Research Grant Project TitleInteractions in Transnational Business Governance RolePrincipal Investigator Award Amount$5,000.00 Year Awarded2010 Granting AgencyHennick Centre for Business and Law - Hennick Collaborative Research Grant Project TitlePrivate Transnational Regulation: Constitutional Foundations and Governance Design RolePrincipal Investigator Award Amount$25,000.00 Year Awarded2009- Granting AgencyHiiL (The Hague Institute for the Internationalisation of Law) Project TitleBusiness and Climate Change in Canada and Germany RolePrincipal Investigator Award Amount$10,000.00 Year Awarded2009- Granting AgencyDAAD (German Academic Exchange Service) Project TitleNew Modes of Governance in the European Union RoleCollaborator Award Amount$5,000.00 Year Awarded2007-2008 Granting AgencyEuropean Commission - FP 6 Integrated Project Project TitleREFGOV (Reflexive Governance), Services of General Interest: Energy Governance in Canada in Comparative Perspective RoleCo-Investigator Award Amount$42,750.00 Year Awarded2005-2009 Granting AgencyEuropean Commission - FP 6 Integrated Project Project Title RolePrincipal Investigator Award Amount$25,000.00 Year Awarded2005 Granting AgencySchulich School of Business - Startup Research Grant Project TitleTransatlantic Energy Conference RolePrincipal Investigator Award Amount$30,000.00 Year Awarded2005 Granting AgencySiemens Canada - Transatlantic Energy Conference Grant Project Title Role Award Amount$ Year Awarded Granting Agency
Schulich Professor Burkard Eberlein has been appointed as one of four York University Provostial Fellows. Appointed for one year, recipients work to enhance collegial capacity at an institutional level to advance the priorities of the University Academic Plan (UAP) in demonstrable ways. The Provostial Fellowships also provide an opportunity for a diverse group of tenured faculty to gain hands-on experience in university leadership.
Fellows will work with the provost and relevant members of the senior leadership on a project or initiative intended to advance one of the UAP priority areas at an institutional level. Each project also seeks to enhance and intersect with the University-wide challenge to elevate institutional contributions to the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
“I am very excited about what are in fact two unique opportunities rolled into one Fellowship,” said Eberlein. “First, to contribute in tangible and meaningful ways to the York community by supporting York’s journey toward carbon neutrality. And second, to be able to gain invaluable practical experience in change leadership and to grow professionally.”
Eberlein’s project, “York’s Journey toward Carbon Neutrality,” seeks to identify and advance specific and impactful initiatives that the University can take to reduce its carbon emissions.
“We’re proud that Professor Eberlein has been appointed as one of the University’s four Provostial Fellows,” said Detlev Zwick, Interim Dean. “I am confident that his contributions will help advance the University’s sustainability initiatives.”