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O'Brien Robert, Professor


Robert O'Brien is Professor of Political Science at McMaster University.  He has published six books and over twenty journal articles and book chapters in the fields of international relations and global political economy.  Robert teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in global political economy and supervises graduate students interested in global labour issues, global civil society, international organization, global governance and the political economy of climate change.  Robert is consulting editor of Global Labour Journal.

Supervisory Interests

My areas of research are in the fields of international political economy, international organization, global civil society, global labour issues and the political economy of climate change. I would be interested in supervising MA or Ph.D. students working in the following areas:

  • The relationship between globalization and labour.
  • International Economic Institutions such as the World Trade Organization, International Monetary Fund, World Bank, International Labour Organization and the OECD.
  • Activity of global / transnational social movements and their engagement with international institutions or corporations.
  • The negotiation and settlement of trade disputes.
  • Critical theoretical approaches to IPE
  • Political Economy of Climate Change
  • Internationalism

Examples of PhD Topics I have supervised

  • China and Global Financial Governance
  • Global Environmental Movement and Corporate Actors
  • Political Economy of Anti-Capitalist Protest
  • Gendered Migration Regimes: Armenia to Turkey
  • Africa, Global Governance and the ILO

PhD Topics I am currently supervising

  • From Climate Refugees to Displaced People in Bangladesh
  • The Challenge of transnationalism for Indian environmentalists




  • 2J3 - Global Political Economy
  • 3G03 - Global Politics of Climate Change 


  • 774 - International Political Economy
  • 768 - Political Economy of Climate Change




Robert O'Brien, Labour Internationalism in the Global South: The SIGTUR Initiative (Cambridge; Cambridge University Press, 2018).

Andreas Bieler, Robert O'Brien and Karen Pampallis eds., Challenging Corporate Capital: Creating an Alternative to Neoliberalism (Johannesburg: Chris Hani Institute, 2016)

Robert O’Brien and Marc Williams, Global Political Economy: Evolution and Dynamics 5th Edition (New York: Palgrave, 2016).    Translation into Mandarin 2016, Greek 2010.

Robert O’Brien ed., Solidarity First: Canadian Workers and Social Cohesion (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 2008). Contents and first chapter here.

Paul James and Robert O’Brien eds. Globalizing Labour (London: Sage, 2007).

Jeffrey Harrod and Robert O’Brien eds. Global Unions? Theory and Strategy of Organised Labour in the Global Political Economy (London: Routledge, 2002)

Robert O’Brien, Anne Marie Goetz, Jan Aart Scholte and Marc Williams, Contesting Global Governance: Multilateral Economic Institutions and Global Social Movements (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000).  Preview available at above link.  

Robert O'Brien, Subsidy Regulation and State Transformation in North America, GATT and the EU (Macmillan, International Political Economy Series, 1997).


Revisiting Rosa Luxemburg’s Internationalism.” Journal of International Political Theory, (March 2019)

and Greg Flynn"An Internationalist Western Labour Response to the Globalization of India and China," Global Labour Journal: Vol. 1: Is. 1, (2010): 178-202.

“Continuing Incivility: Labor Rights in a Global Economy” Journal of Human Rights 3 2 (June 2004): 203-214.

“Organizational Politics, Multilateral Economic Organizations and Social Policy,” Global Social Policy 2 2 (June 2002): 141-162.

“Workers and World Order: The Tentative Transformation of the International Union Movement,” Review of International Studies26 4 (October 2000): 533-555.

Jan Aart Scholte with Robert O’Brien and Marc Williams, “The WTO and Civil Society,” Journal of World Trade 33 1 (February 1999): 107-123.

and Robert Denemark “Contesting the Canon: International Political Economy at UK and US Universities,” Review of International Political Economy, 4 1 (Spring 1997): 214-238.

“North American Integration and International Relations Theory,” Canadian Journal of Political Science (December 1995): 693-724.

Book Chapters

 with Nick Bernards and Falin Zhang  (2015) Labour and Tax Justice.  Johannesburg: Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung  Southern Africa,2015/1

"Antagonism and Accommodation: The Labor - IMF / World Bank Relationship" in Alexandra Kaasch and Paul Stubbs eds.,Transformations in Global and Regional Social Policies ((London: Palgrave Macmillian, 2014).

“Global Labour Policy” in Nicola Yeates ed., Understanding Global Social Policy  2nd ed. (Bristol: Policy Press, 2014).

“Paths to Reforming Global Governance” in Richard Sandbrook and Ali Burak Guven eds., Civilizing Globalisation (New York: SUNY Press 2014).

“Labour Shapes the IPE” in Ronen Palan ed. Contemporary Global Political Economy Theory, (London: Routledge 2012), pp. 46-57. 

“Labour, Globalization and the Attempt to Build Transnational Community” in William Coleman and Diana Brydon, Renegotiating Community: Interdisciplinary Perspectives, Global Contexts (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press 2008), 164-182.

“No Safe Havens: Labour, Regional Integration and Globalisation” in Andrew F. Cooper, Christopher W. Hughes and Phillippe De Lombaerde, eds., Regionalisation and Global Governance: The Taming of Globalisation? (New York: Routledge, 2008), 142-56.

with Alex Diceanu, “Labour and Business on a Global Scale” in Karsten Ronit ed., Global Public Policy (London: Routledge, 2006), 43-62.

 “The Transnational Relations Debate” in Nicola Phillips ed. Globalizing International Political Economy (Palgrave: New York 2005), 165-192.

"Global Civil Society and Global Governance" in Matthew Hoffman and Alice Ba eds.m Contending Perspectives on Global Governance (New York: Routledge 2005), 213-30.

“The Agency of Labour in a Changing Global Order,” Political Economy and the Changing Global Order eds., Richard Stubbs and Geoffrey Underhill, 3rd  Edition (Toronto: Oxford University Press, 2005), 222-232.

 “Globalisation, Imperialism and the Labour Standards Debate” in Ronaldo Munck ed., Labour and Globalization: Results and Prospects (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2004), 52-70.

 “Los Organismos Económicos Internacionales Y La Sociedad Civil Global” in José Vidal Beneyto ed., Hacia Una Sociedad Civil Global: Desde La Sociedad Mundo (Madrid: Taurus 2003), 297-320