Ranjit Lall — 2019 Merze Tate Award Recipient

The American Political Science Association (APSA) will present the Merze Tate Award to Dr. Ranjit Lall at the 2019 APSA Annual Meeting & Exhibition, the world’s largest gathering of political scientists and source for emerging scholarship in the discipline.  The $750 award recognizes the best dissertation on international relations, law, and politics.

Ranjit Lall is Assistant Professor of International Political Economy at the London School of Economics.  His primary research interests are international institutions, global governance, financial regulation, and empirical methods.  He received his Ph.D. from the Department of Government at Harvard University and his B.A. in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics from Merton College, University of Oxford.  He has been awarded the Robert Noxon Toppan Prize for best doctoral dissertation in political science at Harvard University and the Leamer-Rosenthal Prize for Open Social Science by the Berkeley Initiative for Transparency in the Social Sciences.  His research has been published in Comparative Political StudiesInternational OrganizationPolitical Analysis, Regulation & Governance, and the Review of International Political Economy.  Before beginning his graduate studies, he worked as an economist at the Bank of England and an editorial writer for the Financial Times.

Here is what the Award Committee had to say about their decision:

Ranjit Lall’s dissertation, Making International Organizations Work: The Politics of Institutional Performance is an extremely impressive piece of scholarship that creatively links pressing questions in international relations with rigorous empirical testing.  Lall’s first question is: Why are some international organizations (IOs) better performers than others?  This question is extremely challenging in itself, given inherent theoretical and measurement issues.  Pushing back against a series of recent works that focus on the internal organizational dynamics of IOs, Lall finds that these organizations “work” when states want them to work.  His quantitative analysis is based on an original dataset of IO performance derived from official state assessments as well as a remarkable survey of IO officials, and is supplemented by in-depth, interview-based case studies of the World Food Programme and Food and Agriculture Organization.  He generates a novel way to answer whether an organization performs well by asking both the creators and inhabitants of IOs to assess their own performance.  Lall then goes further, also asking: What are the consequences of variation in IO performance?  His analysis of the effects of variation in IO performance pays specific attention to issues of accountability, speaking to the long-standing and important question of how democratic IOs are.  He finds that the likelihood of accountability is driven in part by the type of IO; those that are focused on logistics, for example, are less likely to be accountable than those whose role it is to provide financial resources.  This dissertation is meticulously researched, clearly written, and innovatively theorized and analyzed.  Lall has charted new avenues of research while bearing in mind crucial normative questions underlying global governance.