Geoffrey Underhill was born in Vancouver, Canada (1959), and completed his BA (Hons) in Political Studies at Queen's University at Kingston, graduating in 1980 with First Class honours. His main interests in political science were comparative/international political economy and international relations. In the course of his undergraduate studies he also completed the Certificat d'EtudesPolitiques at the Institut d'Etudes Politiques de Paris , specialising in the French political system and international relations/political economy. He received his PhD in 1987 at St. Antony's College, University of Oxford. Underhill then taught at the University of Stirling (Scotland), and for three years at McMaster University in Canada, before moving to the University of Warwick in the UK in 1991. He took up the Chair of International Governance at the Universiteitvan Amsterdam in October 1998. From May 2003-August 2006 he was appointed as Director of the Amsterdams Instituut voor Maatschappijwetenschap (AIM ), now split into the faculty's Graduate School for Social Sciences (GSSS) and undergraduate College Sociale Wetenschappen (CSW). As of September 2006, Underhill returned to his professorship, teaching for the CSW/GSSS and carrying out his research activities as a member of the Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research, an interdisciplionary institute based at the UvA and accredited by the Royal Netherlands Academy of Sciences.
Underhill's doctoral thesis was a study of domestic restructuring and industrial and trade policy in the textile and clothing industry in France. It investigated what happens when industry structures internationalise, yet state policy tools and constituencies remain territorially defined, and was thus a study of the political economy of trade and industrial adjustment patterns. The scope of the study widened over time to look at trade and adjustment in the textile and clothing sector across a range of developed economies, yielding the 1998 book Industrial Crisis and the Open Economy: Politics, Global Trade, and Textiles in the Advanced Economies (Macmillan), along with several articles.
From the end of the 1980s Underhill's research began to focus on the political economy of monetary relations and financial services in a context of transnational financial markets, global capital mobility, and national/international macroeconomic adjustment, including regional cases such as EU and North American financial integration. The focus was on patterns of international co-operation for the regulation and supervision of global financial markets, and the impact of regulatory change in financial markets on the global monetary system and the wider economic development process.
My empirical research has furthermore been underpinned by an ongoing interest in the theoretical debates in international/comparative political economy. The key theoretical debates involved concern the relationship between patterns of market competition, political conflict, and shifting patterns of governance across levels of analysis, including the agent-structure debate and the changing role of states in global society.
Geoffrey Underhill is the Director of the Master programme in Political Economy based in the Graduate School for the Social Sciences (GSSS). The programme is now in its third highly successful year. Underhill teaches the core Specialisation Module for the programme. He also teaches at the undergraduate level for the College of Social Sciences ( College Sociale Wetenschappenor or CSW). On a rotating basis, Underhill teaches a range of required and elective International Relations/Political Economy courses in the domain of international financial governance and international trade, including aspects of EU (financial and monetary ) integration (see below for this academic year). He currently supervises six PhD candidates for the Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research and gave the Adam Smith lecture in the new Great Thinkers series that began in September 2016.
Block 1 September-October 2019:
MSc Specialisation Course Political Economy (core MA-level, in English). See link to study guide.
During Semester two I will be teaching the Master-level thesis project Global Economic Transformations: growing risk and imbalances. The course is currently oversubscribed, apologies to latecomers.
My research has been underpinned by an ongoing theoretical interest in the political economy roots of the international system of states, their societies, and contemporary problems of governance under the impact of global integration. This has involved interaction with the theoretical debates in international relations and international/comparative political economy and political science, as well as law, economics and economic sociology. Firstly, what happens when global dynamics place states, economic agents, and social constituencies under intense cross-cutting domestic and international pressures? How do these dramatic shifts in economic flows affect the dynamics of power, governance and legitimacy at the state or international level? Secondly and more specifically, what is the relationship between patterns of market competition, political conflict, and shifting patterns of governance institutions across levels of analysis, including the agent-structure debate and the changing role of states in global society? The domestic and/or ‘varieties of capitalism’ roots of these processes remain significant, providing a persistent link with the concerns of comparative political economists.
My theoretical concerns have consistently found expression in case-based public policy research across levels of analysis. My research focused initially on the politics of industrial adjustment, the transnationalization of trade and production, and the international trade regime for manufactures with specific reference to the textile and clothing sector. From 1989-90 my research focused on the political economy of money and financial services in a context of transnational financial markets, global capital mobility, and state macroeconomic management, including regional cases such as the EU. Increasingly my research examines the policy process and reform of global financial architecture and the costs of emerging patterns of financial governance for emerging market and developing country economies, as well as the aftermath of the financial crisis. A more recently-funded project focused on the international aid architecture in sub-Saharan Africa, analysing and strengthening the role of developing country parliamentary accountability towards donor and national government development strategies in relation to the needs and preferences of citizens. Finally, my most recent departure involves work with partners at the SAIS-Johns Hopkins Bologna Centre that involves a critical re-examination of the Optimum Currency Areas (OCA) debate in relation to the governance of the Eurozone and its debt workout. Drawing on lessons of financial stability from the older federations, we are proposing a clear departure from the current-account adjustment based model of OCA theory and a more consistent focus on the adjustment problems of capital mobility and capital market integration in relation to monetary management and financial stability. This has major implications for the policy approach to be pursued in a monetary union and where capital mobility is a feature of economic integration processes. Our first working paper, produced for the SWIFT Institute, is now complete (see below).
"Markets, Institutions, and Transaction Costs: the endogeneity of governance," Paper presented to the Annual Conference of the Society for Institutional and Organizational Economics, HEC-Montréal 21-23 June 2018.