Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs

Tana Johnson

Associate Professor of Public Affairs and Political Science

Tana Johnson

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Tana Johnson (Ph.D., University of Chicago) is an Associate Professor of Public Affairs and Political Science.  Her work is driven by big puzzles in international relations and by important problems in the real world.  In global affairs, what makes delegation and institutional design so challenging?  Why do nation-states delegate to international institutions in spite of the challenges?  And how could we get things to work better?

Johnson's research uses interviews, analyses of original data, archival research, formal models, and computer-assisted textual analysis.  She examines the operations and design of international institutions, particularly those affiliated with the United Nations (UN) system.  Her research has been published in top outlets such as International Organization, Journal of PoliticsReview of International Political Economy, and Review of International Organizations.

Johnson's book Organizational Progeny: Why Governments are Losing Control over the Proliferating Structures of Global Governance (Oxford University Press, 2014, 2017) shows that in a variety of policy areas, global governance structures are getting harder for national governments to control.  This is not only because the quantity and staffing of international organizations has mushroomed, but also because the people working in these organizations try to insulate any new organizations against governments' interference.  Organizational Progeny won the International Studies Association's Alger Prize for the best book on international organization and multilateralism.

Johnson has received research fellowships from the Niehaus Center for Globalization and Governance at Princeton University, as well as the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions at Vanderbilt University. She also has been an energy policy fellow through the Global Governance Futures (GGF) program, which brings together practitioners and academics from the United States, Japan, India, Germany, China, and Brazil.  She is a research fellow with Earth System Governance.  In addition, she has served as a faculty advisor and instructor for graduate students who intern in international governmental and non-governmental organizations in Geneva, Switzerland.


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