Research Interests

My research interests include international and comparative political economy, international trade, labor politics, and American Political Development.



From Conflict to Coalition: Profit-Sharing Institutions and the Political Economy of Trade, Cambridge University Press: Political Economy of Institutions and Decisions (September, 2016).

International trade often inspires intense conflict between workers and their employers. In this book, Adam Dean studies the conditions under which labor and capital actually join together in support of the same trade policies. He argues that capital-labor agreement on trade policy depends upon the presence or absence of "profit-sharing institutions." Dean tests this theory with a multi-method approach. Case studies on the United States, Britain, and Argentina in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries offer a revisionist history that puts class conflict at the center of the political economy of trade. Quantitative analysis of data from over one hundred countries from 1986 to 2002 demonstrates that the field's conventional wisdom systematically exaggerates the benefits that workers receive from trade policy reforms. From Conflict to Coalition boldly explains why labor is neither an automatic beneficiary nor an automatic ally of capital when it comes to trade policy and distributional conflict.


"Adam Dean's book is an exciting addition to the literature on the political economy of trade. The book contains innovative theoretical insights concerning profit-sharing institutions and their role in shaping trade policy preferences of workers. By using a careful multi-method approach, Dean is able to trace the origins of these labor institutions as well as their influence on trade policy across a wide variety of countries. This book should be read by any scholar interested in the political economy of trade policy."

Jon Pevehouse, Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor, University of Wisconsin-Madison

"Adam Dean's fascinating book makes a strong case that analysts of international trade policy have failed to take into account whether an industry has profit-sharing institutions. Dean's claim is that profit-sharing institutions are critical in generating solidarity between industry and labor - either for protection or liberal trade."

Robert O. Keohane, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University

"In an era when globalization is under assault from the Left and Right across the developed world, Adam Dean presents a provocative new argument about the politics of trade protection. Exploiting firm-level heterogeneity in what he calls profit-sharing institutions, Dean persuasively shows that workers support protection only when they share in the rents created by trade barriers. This is a tremendous book of history with great contemporary relevance."

David A. Lake, Gerri-Ann and Gary E. Jacobs Professor of Social Science, University of California, San Diego

"From Conflict to Coalition is an important and original book in which Adam Dean decisively advances scholarly understanding of the political economy of globalization. Drawing on meticulous research for a series of elegantly constructed case studies, Dean examines the conditions under which organized labour comes to share or dissent from the international trade policy preferences of employers. The result is a major scholarly publication, which will be of interest to researchers in economic history, American political development, and international political economy."

Desmond King, University of Oxford


The Gilded Wage: Profit Sharing Institutions and the Political Economy of Trade, International Studies Quarterly (2015) 59:2, 316-329.

Scholars of international political economy often argue that workers automatically share the same trade policy preferences as their employers. However, this approach is based on the assumption that a trade policy that increases profits automatically leads to an increase in wages. In contrast, I argue that capital and labor are more likely to share the same trade policy preference when "profit sharing institutions" permit capital to credibly commit that an increase in profits will lead to an increase in wages. In support of my argument, I present a structured, focused comparison of the American textile and steel workers' unions during the late 19th century. Both unions supported the high tariffs that protected their industries when credible profit sharing institutions were in place, but did not support high tariffs when such institutions were absent.

Contemporary political economy debates tend to assume that an increase in productivity automatically leads to an equal increase in workers' wages. This assumption shapes the way that many scholars think about economic globalization, as well as domestic policy reforms. This assumption is particularly widespread in the field of international political economy, where it is implicitly incorporated through the use of neoclassical economic models. Rather than explore the distributional struggle between capital and labor, these models use the assumption of full employment to predict that policies that increases worker productivity automatically leads to an equal increase in workers' wages. In contrast, this paper argues that the degree to which wages increase along with productivity depends on the domestic institutions that protect workers' rights to act collectively. This paper tests the relationship between worker productivity and wages by analyzing data from 28 manufacturing industries, in 117 countries, from 1986 to 2002. The results demonstrate that the degree to which an increase in worker productivity leads to an increase in wages depends on a country's level of protection for labor rights.