Academic Bio

Sven Steinmo's work has had an impact in at least three fields of political science: institutional theory, comparative public policy, and comparative historical analysis. He is perhaps best known for his work in institutional theory, having been one of the founders of the subfield of Historical Institutionalism. His book with Kathleen Thelen, Structuring Politics: Historical Institutionalism and Comparative Analysis, is considered to be one of the defining statements in this area of research. His first monograph, Taxation and Democracy: Swedish, British, and American Approaches to Financing the Modern State, also contributed to institutionalist theory and was one of the first analyses of taxation policy to be written by a political scientist. This book was awarded the Riker Prize for the Best Book Published in Political Economy in 1992-3, by the American Political Science Association.

In addition to his contribution to institutional theory, Steinmo has published in a number of policy fields including fiscal policy, tax policy, health policy, education policy, and pension policy. His work is also unusual in its range of countries. For example, his most recent book, The Evolution of Modern States: Sweden, Japan and the United States, (Cambridge, 2010) is the first in-depth comparative historical analysis which examines the evolution of three democratic welfare states in three continents. This book is concurrently being published in Japanese by the highly respected Iwanami Press.

Steinmo's contribution and work have been recognized in a number of ways. He has received a number of internationally recognized fellowships and awards including: The Gabriel Almond Award for the Best Dissertation in Comparative Politics, the German Marshall Fund Senior Research Fellowship, the Abe Fellowship, and the STINT Scientist Award. He has also been granted an Honorary Professorship in Comparative Politics at the University of Southern Denmark, and was honored with the Norwell Visiting Professorship at the Institute of Future Studies in Stockholm Sweden. He has also been a Visiting Professor at the Institute for Social Sciences at the University of Tokyo, Visiting Lecturer at Sciences Po, University of Bordeaux, a Visiting Scholar at the Max Planck Institute in Cologne Germany, and a Visiting Scientist at the University of Gothenburg. Steinmo's articles and books have been translated and published in a variety of languages including Chinese, Spanish, French, and Japanese.

Steinmo's most recent book, The Evolution of Modern States, breaks new ground by bringing evolutionary theories developed in linguistics, anthropology, biology, and economics into the study of social and political institutions. It was honoured with the "Gunnar Myrdal Prize" for the best book published in 2010, by the European Association for Evolutionary Political Economy in October, 2011. His work on evolutionary theory and institutions has also attracted attention from beyond political science. Most recently his essay (with his student, Orion Lewis), "Taking Evolution Seriously in Political Science" was published in Theory in Biosciences in 2010. He is the co-editor of a special issue of the Journal of Institutional Economics, and co-author of its introductory essay "The Evolution of Institutions." Steinmo was invited to give the Keynote Lecture to the Italian Association of Cognitive Sciences annual meeting in Naples, Italy in 2009.

Steinmo actively contributes to his profession. For example, he was elected to the Executive Council of the American Political Science Association. Subsequently he was elected to the executive board of the APSR under the editorship of Lee Sigelman. He also served as Trustee of the Association. In 2010 he served as President of the Politics and History section of the APSA as well as on the Executive Committee of the Council for European Studies. He founded and directed the Tocqueville Institute at the University of Colorado.

Steinmo has organized several international conferences which have subsequently led to co-authored edited volumes including Structuring Politics (Cambridge University Press), Growing Apart: Europe and America in the 21st Century, with Jeff Kopstein, (Cambridge University Press) and Restructuring the Welfare State: Political Institutions and Policy Change, edited with Bo Rothstein (Palgrave/McMillan). Most recently, he organized two international conferences at the Schuman Center for Advanced Studies which brought together evolutionary and cognitive scientists on the topic of Institutional and Social Evolution. From 1996 to 2000 he was also Director of the internationally recognized "Conference on World Affairs" in Boulder, Colorado. This conference brought over 125 scholars, political leaders, artists and intellectuals together for a week-long set of open panel discussions and events which attracted public audiences of over 70,000 people each year.

Finally, Professor Steinmo has mentored a large number of successful younger scholars, who are now working in various institutions around the globe including, Notre Dame, Brown, Odense, Oxford College, Bremen, the Max Planck Institute, the University of California, Colorado State University, as well as several other organisations including, for example, McKenzie Consulting and the European Union.

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