Domestic Institutions and International Competitiveness
When President George W. Bush delivered his policy speech on embryonic stem cell research, what may not have been evident during this televised event was the conflict playing out behind the scenes between two domestic institutions. On one side was the religious right, supporting a total ban; on the other was the "national innovation system" (consisting of university research and biotech and pharmaceutical firms), which opposes the ban. In spite of the obvious health and ethical questions surrounding embryonic stem cell research, what really prompted this televised policy speech was the issue of competitiveness and what it would mean to the American economy if a ban was put into force.
As the Canada Research Chair in Competitiveness and Prosperity, Dr. Daniel Trefler is researching the influence of domestic institutions on a nation's economic development, and how this influence relates to a nation's ability to be internationally competitive. His research program consists of two themes: how domestic institutions can be a decisive determinant on international trade and competitiveness, and how international trade influences the evolution of a nation's domestic institutions.
Dr. Trefler is making important advances in an area that has received little attention to date. By examining whether domestic institutions help or harm a nation's international competitiveness, and whether international competition positively or negatively influences a nation's domestic institutions, he is setting the tone of future work on international competitiveness and economic development.