Aseem Prakash is Professor of Political Science and the Walker Family Professor for the Arts and Sciences at University of Washington-Seattle. He is the Director of the UW Center for Environmental Politics. He serves as the General Editor of the Cambridge University Press Series on Business and Public Policy, the co-editor of Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, and the Associate Editor of Business & Society. In addition to serving on editorial boards of several additional journals, he has been elected as the Vice-President of the International Studies Association (2015-2016).
His most prominent contribution pertains to the club approach to the study of voluntary programs in the context of business firms, and extended it to the context of the non-profit sector. Outside actors do not fully know how firms or nonprofits are functioning internally. Voluntary programs are a signaling mechanisms to convey this information to outside actors in a credible way. Because participation in such programs in costly, participants need to get something in return. The club approach suggests that club membership allows members to appropriate certain benefits which are non-rival and excludable (i.e., have the characteristics of club goods). These can pertain to reputation, goodwill, access to capital, regulatory relief, etc. Given that voluntary programs tend to have varying levels of effectiveness, the club approach helps to predict ex ante how program design affects program efficacy.
In addition to his work on environmental issues, he is among the second wave scholars who suggest examining NGOs from a collective action perspective. The first ways scholars suggest that NGOs are somehow different from firms and governments because they are guided by principled concerns, not instrumental reasons. Nonprofit scholars claim that nonprofits are more reliable than firms because they are subject to the non-distributional constraint: that is, they can generate profits but cannot distribute them. The second wave scholars question these assertions on both theoretical and empirical grounds. For them, NGOs and nonprofits are guided by both instrumental reasons and principled beliefs. Further, managers have several ways of circumventing the non-distributional constraint and using organizational resources to their advantage. Indeed, the low entry barriers in establishing nonprofits has led the nonprofit/NGO pool to be contaminated with purely instrumental organizations. The collective action approach provides an analytic and systematic approach to study nonprofits and NGOs. Insights about voluntary regulation which have been developed in the context of the for profit sector travel quite well to the study of the non-profit sector.
His other prominent contribution pertains to the role of trade and FDI networks in influencing regulatory races in areas such as human rights, labor rights, environmental policies.
Aseem Prakash has written and edited several books and articles on the subjects of corporate environmentalism, NGOs, and globalization. He maintains a blog on Indian politics: ww.indianraajneeti.com