Guest Speaker: Professor Nathan Jensen, University of Texas at Austin

Event Date: 

Monday, March 2, 2020 - 1:00pm

Event Location: 

  • Lane Room Ellison Hall 3824

Nathan M. Jensen
Department of Government
University of Texas at Austin

Monday, March 2, 2020
1:00 - 2:30 p.m.
Lane Room, Ellison Hall 3824

Who’s Afraid of Sunlight? Explaining Opposition to Transparency in Economic Development

Abstract: Why do some firms oppose transparency of government programs? In this paper we explore legal challenges to public records requests for deal-specific, company-specific participation in a state economic development incentive program. By examining applications for participation in a major state economic program, the Texas Enterprise Fund, we find that a company is more likely to challenge a formal public records request if it has renegotiated the terms of the award to reduce its job-creation obligations. We interpret this as companies challenging transparency when they have avoided being penalized for non-compliance by engaging in non-public renegotiations. These results provide evidence regarding those conditions that prompt firms to challenge transparency and illustrate some of the limitations of safeguards such as clawbacks (or incentive-recapture provisions) when such reforms aren’t coupled with robust transparency mechanisms.

Bio: Nathan Jensen (2002, Yale Ph.D.) is a Professor in the Department of Government at the University of Texas-Austin. He was previously an associate professor in the Department of International Business at George Washington University (2014-2016) and associate professor in the Political Science Department at Washington University in St. Louis (2002-2014). He teaches courses and conducts research on government economic development strategies, firm non-market strategies and business-government relations, the politics of oil and natural resources, political risk in emerging markets, trade policy, and international institutions.

Lunch will be served at 12:00 p.m. in Ellison 2824.