Frederick W. Mayer

Frederick W. Mayer

Professor of Political Science

External Address: 
124 Rubenstein Hall, Sanford Institute of Public Policy, Durham, NC 27708-0243
Internal Office Address: 
Box 90245, Durham, NC 27708-0243
(919) 613-9209
International Relations

Frederick "Fritz" Mayer is Professor of Public Policy at Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy and a Professor of Political Science and Environment. He teaches courses on the political economy of public policy, globalization and governance, political analysis, and leadership. In addition, Professor Mayer is the director of POLIS: The Center for Political Leadership, Innovation and Service. Mayer's research concerns the role of stories in politics. His book Narrative Politics: Stories and Collective Action (Oxford University Press, 2014) argues that shared stories are essential tools for enabling communities to overcome free riding and other obstacles to collective action. He is particularly interested in the role of narrative in global environmental politics. Mayer’s second line of research addresses globalization and its effects, with particular emphasis on the labor and environmental impacts of economic integration. His book Interpreting NAFTA: The Art and Science of Political Analysis (Columbia University Press, 1998) chronicled the history of NAFTA and explores the nature of the political processes that created NAFTA. Recent work has involved exploring the policy implications of a world in which most international trade is conducted within "global value chains," and in which a relatively few large firms enjoy considerable power in defining the terms of trade.
In addition to his academic experience, Mayer served as senior international trade and foreign policy advisor to former U. S. Sen. Bill Bradley from 1992 to 1993. In previous stints in Washington, Mayer served as an aide to Congressman Sander Levin, as a policy analyst at the U.S. Environment Protection Agency, and as editor at the Close Up Foundation, an educational non-profit organization. From 1997 to 2000, he was director of Duke’s Center for North American Studies. Mayer received an A.B. in history and literature from Harvard College, and an M.P.P. and a Ph.D. in public policy, both from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.


  • Ph.D., Harvard University 1988

Mayer, FW. Narrative Politics Stories and Collective Action. Oxford University Press (UK), 2014.

Mayer, F. Interpreting NAFTA The Science and Art of Political Analysis. Columbia University Press, 1998.

Mayer, FW. "The story of risk: How narratives shape risk communication, perception, and policy." Policy Shock: Recalibrating Risk and Regulation after Oil Spills, Nuclear Accidents and Financial Crises. January 1, 2017. 129-148. Full Text

Mayer, FW. "Leveraging private governance for public purpose: Business, civil society and the state in labour regulation." Handbook of the International Political Economy of Governance. April 25, 2014. 344-360. Full Text

Pechar, E, Bernauer, T, and Mayer, F. "Beyond Political Ideology: The Impact of Attitudes Towards Government and Corporations on Trust in Science." Science Communication 40.3 (June 1, 2018): 291-313. Full Text

Mayer, FW, and Phillips, N. "Outsourcing governance: states and the politics of a ‘global value chain world’." New Political Economy 22.2 (March 4, 2017): 134-152. Full Text

Mayer, FW, Phillips, N, and Posthuma, AC. "The political economy of governance in a ‘global value chain world’." New Political Economy 22.2 (March 4, 2017): 129-133. Full Text

Barrientos, S, Mayer, F, Pickles, J, and Posthuma, A. "Decent work in global production networks: Framing the policy debate." International Labour Review 150.3-4 (December 1, 2011): 297-317. Full Text

"Multi-level games." (December 1, 2010): 47-65. (Chapter)

Mayer, F, and Gereffi, G. "Regulation and economic globalization: Prospects and limits of private governance." Business and Politics 12.3 (October 28, 2010). Full Text Open Access Copy

Mayer, FW. "Many globalizations: Cultural diversity in the contemporary world." JOURNAL OF POLICY ANALYSIS AND MANAGEMENT 24.2 (2005): 466-470. Full Text

Mayer, FW. "Challenges to globalization: Analyzing the economics." JOURNAL OF POLICY ANALYSIS AND MANAGEMENT 24.2 (2005): 466-470. Full Text

Mayer, FW. "Conflict amid consensus in American trade policy." POLITICAL SCIENCE QUARTERLY 116.2 (2001): 324-325. Full Text


Selected Grants

The North Carolina Leadership Forum awarded by Duke Endowment (Principal Investigator). 2017 to 2022

Rural Attitudes on Environmental Policy awarded by William and Flora Hewlett Foundation (Collaborator). 2018 to 2019

Beyond Gerrymandering: Impartial Redistricting for North Carolina awarded by A. J. Fletcher Foundation (Principal Investigator). 2016 to 2019

The North Carolina Leadership Forum, John William Pope Foundation awarded by John William Pope Foundation (Principal Investigator). 2015 to 2019

The North Carolina Leadership Forum, Z. Smith Reynolds awarded by Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, Inc. (Principal Investigator). 2015 to 2018

The North Carolina Leadership Forum, TDE awarded by Duke Endowment (Principal Investigator). 2015 to 2017

National Resource Centers and Foreign Language and Area Studies awarded by Department of Education (Principal Investigator). 1997 to 2001

(97-0298) National Resource Center and Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowships awarded by Department of Education (Principal Investigator). 1997 to 2000

(98-0590) National Resource Center and Fellowships awarded by Department of Education (Principal Investigator). 1997 to 2000