Pepper D. Culpepper
Professor of Political Science
European University Institute
Welcome! My research focuses on comparative political economy, meaning that I study the intersection between capitalism and democracy in the advanced industrial countries, including the United States. I work particularly on the way in which business organizes and exercises influence in law-making and regulation. My most recent book, Quiet Politics and Business Power, explores how the ability of different interest groups to shape policy outcomes and political debates depends on the political salience of issues. I also work on processes of institutional and policy change in capitalist democracies and on the quality of national democracy in Europe and elsewhere. This site provides easy access to some of my published research, teaching, and public commentary on related issues.
Quiet Politics and Business Power wins 2012 Stein Rokkan Prize for Comparative Social Science Research.
Reviews of Quiet Politics and Business Power: European Political Science, Foreign Affairs, French Politics, Perspectives on Politics, Swiss Political Science Review, Understanding Society, British Journal of Industrial Relations, Comparative Labor Law & Policy Journal, Corporate Governance: An International Review, European Journal of Legal Studies, Gouvernement et action publique, ILR Review.
Limitons les rémunérations patronales! Le Monde, March 30, 2012.
Interview on Vocational Training vs. College Education: Lessons from Europe. Worldview, Chicago Public Media (WBEZ), November 30, 2011:
Interview on Occupy Wall Street and the Global Day of Protest. The Kathleen Dunn Show, Wisconsin Public Radio, October 18, 2011:
British Universities: Quality at the Cost of Inequality . With Ben Ansell. Times Higher Education (London), February 3, 2011.
Interview on Austerity Programs and Social Protest in Europe, The Kathleen Dunn Show, Wisconsin Public Radio, September 30, 2010:
Beyond Elections? Deliberation and Democracy in the European Union . With Elena Fagotto, Archon Fung, and Taeku Lee. September, 2009.
How to Control Executive Pay. The New Republic online, March 17, 2009.
Quiet Politics and Business Power
"Quiet Politics is a roaring affirmation of the intellectual power that is generated by combining impressive theoretical sophistication with enormous empirical depth and great political acumen. These days, our debates about the politics of capitalism are noisy and shallow. All serious students of political economy will benefit from some quiet hours chewing on and digesting the intellectual feast that this book offers."
Peter J. Katzenstein, Cornell University
"‘Quiet politics’ points to a major problem of democracies, often overlooked by the focus of politicians and political scientists on salient political conflicts, partisan coalitions and public debate. It contributes to empirical democratic theory, redirecting attention to policy-making in non-salient but tremendously important arenas. In addition, Culpepper’s study builds empirical and theoretical bridges to the fields of business administration, to law and to comparative political economy more generally. Quiet Politics and Business Power is a major contribution to the study of political and economic institutions, processes and outcomes."
Citation for XVIIth Stein Rokkan Prize
"A remarkable book.... This is first-class qualitative social science, using an alternating process of deductive and inductive reasoning to tease out hypotheses and test them against case study evidence. Lucidly written and persuasively argued, Culpepper convincingly challenges a host of existing approaches to the study of corporate governance and business power, while making his core topic of corporate control of great interest to specialists and accessible to those more interested in his theory.
"Professor Culpepper's insightful analysis exposes a hidden dynamic that shapes takeover regulation in a diverse group of capitalist democracies: managers make the rules while politicians are not watching. Quiet Politics will change how readers think about the buying and selling of companies, and the process of regulating the market for corporate control."
"This is a deeply challenging and provocative book, with implications for the study of the interrelationship of advanced capitalism and democratic politics far wider than just for corporate governance.... Culpepper argues with detailed empirical plausibility that democracy can only impose change in technical policy debates if they are of high salience - otherwise business wins, and especially in areas of relatively informal regulation. Culpepper thus shows how governments can sometimes win but how business normally does. A subversive and very illuminating book to stir up comparative political economy."