John Odell

Director, School of International Relations
Office: Von KleinSmid Center 330
Phone: (213)740-4298
Office Hours: Please contact him by email.

John Odell was born in San Antonio, Texas. After a tour of duty in Vietnam, he completed a Ph.D. in political science in 1976 at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He was a member of Harvard University’s faculty from 1976 through 1982. Since 1982 Odell has taught and written at the University of Southern California, where he is Professor and Director of the School of International Relations today. From 1989 to 1992, he directed USC’s Center for International Studies. From 1992 through 1996 he served as Editor of International Organization, regarded by many as the leading scholarly journal of international relations in the world. His research and teaching have concentrated on the governance of the world economy--why governments and international organizations do what they do in international economic relations. He has written extensively about negotiations among states on issues such as trade, exchange rates and debt. He has published about negotiations in the World Trade Organization and the International Monetary Fund. He has a special interest in qualitative research methods. His interests have drawn him from political science into economics, psychology, sociology and history as well, and have taken him back and forth between academia and practice. He has conducted field research in Europe, Asia, and Latin America as well as the United States, in order to learn directly from the diplomats he writes about. He has spent a year working as a visiting fellow in the office of the US Trade Representative, the top US trade negotiator. Odell has been a visiting fellow at Japan’s Ministry of International Trade and Industry, the Institute for International Economics in Washington, and the Graduate Institute for International Studies, Geneva. He is the author or co-author of 3 books, co-editor of 3 others, and author of many research articles and book chapters. His 1987 book Anti-Protection was translated into Japanese. His Negotiating the World Economy (2000) was translated into Chinese and Spanish. Six institutions have supported Odell’s work with fellowships or grants. Many institutions have invited him to lecture--in the UK, Belgium, Switzerland, Austria, Italy, Hungary, China, Korea, Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Ecuador as well as the United States. He has served as a consultant to the World Bank, the U.S. Department of State, the Ford Foundation, the Asia Foundation, and the Council of the Americas. In Mexico he helped train diplomats for effective economic negotiation. Odell is a member of Council on Foreign Relations, Pacific Council on International Policy, American Political Science Association, and the International Studies Association. He speaks Spanish and he makes his home in Pasadena, California.


My primary research interests concern the politics of the world economy. I try to illuminate why governments and other players do what they do in world trade and financial relations.

In 2006 I edited and published Negotiating Trade: Developing Countries in the WTO and NAFTA. Negotiations between governments shape the world political economy and in turn the lives of peoples everywhere. Developing countries have become far more influential in talks in the World Trade Organization, including infamous stalemates in Seattle in 1999 and Cancún 2003, as well as bilateral and regional talks like those that created NAFTA. Yet social science does not understand well enough the process of negotiation, and least of all the roles of developing countries, in these situations. This innovative book sheds fresh light on three aspects of this otherwise opaque process—which strategies developing countries use, coalition formation, and how they learn and influence counterparts’ beliefs. Some chapters show how different institutional settings enable different tactics. New evidence comes from nine recent case studies mostly in the WTO—analyzing dispute-settlement talks as well as large multilateral negotiations--and one simulation study. This book will be valuable for many readers interested in negotiation, international political economy, trade, development, global governance, or international law. Scholars will find ways to integrate international political economy and negotiation analysis, and middle-range hypotheses for future research. Developing country negotiators and those who train them will find practical insights on how to avoid pitfalls and negotiate better. To order visit Cambridge University Press or Amazon. For more information, click here.

In 2000 I published a book entitled Negotiating the World Economy. It gives the inside stories of ten major economic negotiations since 1944 that have involved the United States. It explains the strategies used by governments as well as why the same strategy gains more in some situations and less in others. The book develops a mid-range theory based on bounded rationality, setting it apart from the most common form of rational choice as well as from views that reject rationality. It reveals a rich set of future research paths and closes with guidelines from improving negotiation performance today. The main ideas are relevant for any country and for all who may be affected by international economic bargaining. The book is published in Chinese by World Affairs Press, Beijing, 2004, and published in Spanish by Ediciones Gernika, Mexico City, 2004. To order visit Cornell University Press or Amazon. For more information, click here.


Other scholars and officials around the world are also publishing new studies of the process of international economic negotiation. To find out more about what is being published by whom, select the link to Economic Negotiation Network.

I have conducted field research or given guest lectures or both in China, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Australia, Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, the United Kingdom, Belgium, France, and Switzerland as well as many places in the U.S.

At USC I teach undergraduate and graduate courses on the politics of the world economy, US foreign economic policy, international negotiation, and qualitative research design.