Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Publishing and flourishing at SAIS Bologna

SAIS Bologna Prof. Michael Plummer has edited a new book that reflects his understanding of world trade and makes sense of the complexities of international commercial policy.

Plummer's latest work, The Oxford Handbook of International Commercial Policy, is scheduled to be released next month.

Prof. Michael Plummer
The 432-page volume is another example of the stature that SAIS professors hold in their fields as authors, teachers, policymakers and mentors.

Plummer returned to full-time teaching at SAIS Bologna this year after serving several years as head of the Development Division at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

I won't try to summarize Plummer's qualifications, background or publishing track record. This semester at SAIS Bologna he is teaching Asian Economic Development and International Trade Theory. He and I were classmates at SAIS just a few years ago, and he then left me in the dust intellectually.

Oxford University Press says the book provides "comprehensive coverage of commercial policy issues, both theoretical and empirical" and "real-world commercial policies of key players in the global trading system."

I recently sat down with Plummer to discuss the book, co-authored with Prof. Mordchai Kreinin of Michigan State University.

Q: What is your new book about?
Plummer: The book is about various aspects of the evolving international commercial policy that are defining the international market place in the 21st century. It approaches this from a variety of angles, some cross-country thematic chapters such as chapters on regionalism and some on administrative actions, some on international law, some on agriculture. Others essentially look at it from the perspective of nations, such as large nations like the United States, the European Union and Japan, but also small open economies like Australia, New Zealand and Israel.

Q: Is there an overriding theme?
Plummer: It's an edited book, so it has a variety of perspectives from different scholars, some of the best scholars on these different themes. I think its main purpose had been to be used both by graduate students of economics and by policymakers with strong economic background who are interested in these sorts of policy developments.

Q: How did you find this range of contributors?
Plummer: They are some of the best known people in the field. What we did is we identified what we felt would be the most innovative and productive scholars in different fields, and we went after them to see if they would write chapters for us. We were very fortunate to get a very strong response. I am really delighted by the people we had contributing and by the efforts that they made. We really do feel that we have something that is cutting edge and which will be very useful.

Q: Did you write a chapter?
Plummer: Yes, with my co-author, Max Kreinin. We wrote the regionalism chapter as well as the introduction, of course.

Q: So graduate students and policymakers would be your target audience. How do they get ahold of the book?
Plummer: They order if from Oxford University Press.

Q: What's your next writing project?
Plummer: I have a book project that is going to be on emerging trends in Asian economic policy. I've been working on a series of papers dealing with post-Doha issues. I was asked to write it for something the Asian Development Bank is doing. Another is for the publication by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. They have an Asian series that they publish, and we have a conference in September where we will present these papers that will eventually be published by them.

Nelson Graves