Working Papers

(Drafts available upon request)

How American Businesses Shape Global Legal Norms

(under review)

Prior research often focused on explaining why businesses conform to international legal norms or how they influence these norms at the international level, while fewer studies examined how businesses shape powerful states’ legal norm preferences. I investigate this question by looking at the American advocacy for the adoption of antitrust (competition) laws abroad. Using Congressional documents and policy statements by antitrust agencies, I show that American multinational enterprises (MNEs) pressured the US government to diffuse antitrust laws to gain competitive advantages over foreign MNEs, particularly the Japanese keiretsu firms and the state-sponsored monopolies of the post-Soviet and developing countries. These business pressures intensified and could succeed with the growing Chicago School influence over the US national antitrust policy, which made regulatory heterogeneity more costly and eliminated the other options for leveling the regulatory playing field. While these findings extend the “race to top” theory (e.g., Vogel 1995) to antitrust laws, they also add a historical-institutionalist perspective (e.g., Thelen 1999) pointing at how domestic institutions configure the business advocacy for international legal standards.

Keywords: Global legal norms, Antitrust laws, Regulatory races, American MNCs, 1990s

The Chicago School Influence over the U.S. Antitrust Policy Reforms

(under review)

This article examines how new economic policy ideas upheld by expert authorities shape economic policy reforms. Departing from the existing studies on the “principle-agent model” (e.g,. Miller 2005) and “policy paradigms” (e.g., Hall 1999), which suggest that new policy ideas and expert authorities are unlikely to directly shape policy legislation inside Congress, I theorize that they still play important roles thanks to the technical and implementation complexity of economic policy designs. I test this theory through a comparison of different antitrust law reform proposals in the 1970s relying on original data from the Congressional records. I show that while the emergent Chicago School of Law and Economics paradigm failed in advancing its reform proposals inside Congress, it could still veto and reshape the antitrust reform proposals that contradicted its core assumptions through the antitrust authorities’ influence over policy design. This finding has broader implications for when and why economic policy reforms can reflect democratically represented ideas or the ideas of expert cliques.

Keywords: Antitrust policy, Policy paradigms, Principle-Agent dynamics, American politics

Varieties of Competition Rules in the Developing World

This paper uses the institutional complementarity concept in the Varieties of Capitalism literature to analyze how competition laws fit into different political-economic settings in developing countries at the legislation and implementation stages. Based on a comparative-historical study of Turkey and Mexico using interviews and law enforcement statistics, I find that competition law regulations adapt to domestic public procurement and administrative law institutions, despite the external pressures to imitate the US and EU competition law regimes. As a result, they complement, rather than challenge, the existing state-business relationships in these economies. This finding highlights both the limitations and the creative potential of competition law transplants in the developing world.

The Role of Administrative-Organizational Design in Regulatory Policy

The existing research on market regulations across nations focuses largely on formal legal rules, market structures, and the autonomy of regulatory authorities. Departing from these research, I highlight the importance of the organizational characteristics of administrative authorities. Using organizational theories on knowledge-intensive organizations, and a comparative study of competition authorities in Turkey and Mexico, I suggest that administrative authorities make context-specific decisions on how to best structure their organizations to process large amounts of information, which can lead to very different recruitment and training of staff, allocation of decision-making rights, and reliance on economists. These differences create unique policy-making styles which shape the implementation process.

Previous Publications

Arslan, Melike. "Differentiating and connecting indicators: the quality and performance of law in the World Bank's Doing Business Project." International Journal of Law in Context 16, no. 1 (2020): 17-38.

Abstract: Scholars have long argued that transnational legal indicators (TLIs) suffer from significant validity problems. In response to such critiques, the World Bank (WB) reformed its Doing Business (DB) legal indicators in 2014. This paper evaluates two important results of this reform: the WB distinguished between the quality and performance (efficiency) of law indicators and also claimed that they are positively correlated. I argue that this distinction is based on two different utilitarian perspectives; therefore, these indicators try to quantify different aspects of laws. However, new empirical tests indicate that they are not correlated. The statistical tests on the DB Resolving Insolvency Indicators do not show any strong correlation, and the case of Turkey’s WB-led insolvency-law reform suggests that the developing countries can even incur efficiency losses from legal-quality improvements. Thus, this study demonstrates that the 2014 DB reform reproduced the validity problems inside the new distinctions and connections between its indicators, potentially creating new misconceptions for policy-makers.

Keywords: Legal indicators, the World Bank, legal reform, insolvency, Turkey

Carruthers, Bruce G., and Melike Arslan. "Sovereignty, law, and money: new developments." Annual Review of Law and Social Science 15 (2019): 521-538.

Abstract: Money has remained closely connected to political sovereignty even as polities changed from empires and kingdoms to dictatorships and democracies, and as money shifted from coin to paper and now to digital currency. Money constitutes a claim on value in exchange and a store and measure of value, so we consider the role law plays in these three articulations between money and value. We examine research on different instances of legal control over official currency, monetary innovations, standards of monetary measurement and valuation, counterfeiting, terror financing, and money laundering to show how the relationship between money and law has evolved in response to changes in international law, national sovereignty, and global markets.

Keywords: Legal tender, monetary standards, valuation, money laundering, counterfeiting, Bitcoin


Arslan, Melike. “Understanding Monopolization through Socio-Economic Research”, Society for the Advancement of Socio-Economics (SASE) Blog (April 2021)

Accessible at: