Ben Cashore

Professor, Environmental Governance & Political Science; Director of the Governance, Environment, and Markets Initiative at Yale (GEM) and Director, Program on Forest Policy and Governance

Research Overview

Cashore is a political scientist whose specializes in public policy, institutions and governance. His work on environmental policy (especially climate, forests and land use change), non-state market driven governance, and comparative regulatory processes, and his professional engagement in schools of environment and resources, has led him to work in multi-disciplinary research teams spanning economics, sociology, geography, public policy and law, as well as engaging with natural science researchers. These efforts have let him to develop key thematic, theoretical, substantive interests that span several geographic regions, including Southeast Asia, North America, Europe, and Latin America.



  • Private governance
    • Non-state Market Driven (NSMD) Governance
    • Transnational Business Regulation
    • Public/private interactions
  • Environmental policy and governance

    • International
    • Multilevel
    • National regulatory approaches
  • Climate change as a “super wicked” problem

    • Applies path dependency analysis to a class of problems in which: time is running out, no central authority exists, those attempting to solve the problem are also causing it, and the future is discounted irrationally
  • Transnational pathways of influence

    • The processes through which sustainability standards and behaviours might ‘ratchet up’ along side increased market integration
    • Disentangles the causal role of global norms (e.g. ethical motivations) from market incentives, international rules and ‘capacity building’ (direct access) influences.



  • Policy triggers: When, and under what conditions, do some policies or technological interventions, unleash long term focused path dependent trajectories?
  • Legitimacy & authority: how do NSMD governance institutions emerge, achieve, and maintain authority? How do they interact with traditional governance arenas?
  • Backward and forward looking scholarship: How can we draw on, but not be constrained by, empirical backward looking empirical research? How do we identify multiple step trajectories as they unfold?



  • Climate policy
  • Environmental Policy
  • Land use change/cross sectoral interactions
  • Business and Sustainability
  • Forest policy (Deforestation, forest degradation, sustainability)


d.Geographic scale

With collaborators

  • Global/international
  • Canada/US
  • Europe
  • Southeast Asia (Indonesia, Malaysia, China)
  • Latin America (Brazil, Peru, Mexico)