In an increasingly globalized economy, how do we protect ourselves as consumers from business trusts that cross international borders? This is one of the questions being asked by undergraduates enrolled in the spring semester course, “The Politics of Market Competition in a Global Economy.”
The students recently had the opportunity to bring their questions to Washington, D.C., where they spoke with antitrust experts in the Department of Justice, the Federal Trade Commission and the business community.
The conversations are part of students’ ongoing research into antitrust or “competition” laws that prohibit cartels, bid-rigging and other anti-competitive practices. These laws prevent monopoly building through the regulation of mergers and acquisitions, which in turn supports innovation, lower prices and efficient services. In the last 25 years, the number of countries with these laws has ballooned from around 30 to 130.
Maxime Fischer-Zernin, a Trinity senior studying political science, said that engaging with high-level practitioners provided a learning experience that was vital and complementary to the work in the classroom. “They spoke frankly and substantively about their work. In many instances we were able to relate their experiences to our class discussions and determine to what extent the academic theory and real-world application of antitrust matched up.”
Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice officials discussed their work with foreign counterparts to tackle anticompetitive behavior that takes place across borders. The chair of the competition committee of the U.S. Council for International Business provided valuable insight into how U.S. firms' foreign sales and investments are affected by the spread of competition laws, students said.
Rachel Glanz, a Trinity junior and political science major, commented on the impact of hearing first-hand about "the changes in and development of competition policy across the world" from practitioners, such as FTC Commissioner Maureen Ohlhausen, who have years of experience.
The course is co-taught by Tim Büthe, associate professor of political science and public policy, and visiting George C. Lamb Regulatory Fellow Umut Aydin. The Lamb Fellowship is hosted by the Kenan Institute for Ethics at Duke in partnership with The Fuqua School of Business and Trinity College of Arts & Sciences. Aydin is an assistant professor of political science at Catholic University of Santiago de Chile.
The field trip was made possible by a grant from the Rethinking Regulation program at the Kenan Institute for Ethics.