Podcast Features Brutger’s Paper on Private Firms and WTO Dispute Escalation

Ryan Brutger

On a recent episode of the Social Science Matrix Podcast, Daniel Lobo, a PhD student in the UC Berkeley Department of Sociology and a 2022-2023 Matrix Communications Scholar, interviewed Ryan Brutger, Associate Professor of Political Science at UC Berkeley, about his new article, Litigation for Sale: Private Firms and WTO Dispute Escalation, which was published in the American Political Science Review. Brutger’s paper presents a theory of lobbying by firms for trade liberalization, not through political contributions, but instead through contributions to the litigation process at the World Trade Organization.

“In this ‘litigation for sale’ model, firms signal information about the strength and value of potential cases, and the government selects cases based on firms’ signals,” Brutger wrote in the paper’s abstract. “Firms play a key role in monitoring and seeking enforcement of international trade law, which increases a state’s ability to pursue the removal of trade barriers and helps explain the high success rate for WTO complainants. The theory’s implications are consistent with interviews with trade experts and are tested against competing theories of direct political lobbying through an analysis of WTO dispute initiation.”

Listen to the podcast about the research — or read the transcript — on the Matrix website.