Tana L. Johnson

Tana L. Johnson

Associate Professor of Political Science

External Address: 
Sanford Building 236, 201 Science Drive, Box 90245, Durham, NC 27708
Internal Office Address: 
236 Sanford Building, 201 Science Drive, Box 90245, Durham, NC 27708
International Relations, Security, Peace, Conflict

(On leave during 2019-2020)Tana Johnson (Ph.D., University of Chicago) is a political scientist working in the field of international relations and international/global policy.  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, and from 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 serves as a faculty advisor and instructor for the Duke Global Policy (DGP) Program, which places graduate students in internships in international governmental and non-governmental organizations in Geneva, Switzerland.


  • Niehaus Fellowship, Princeton University, Princeton University 2010 - 2011
  • Ph.D., University of Chicago 2010

Johnson, T. L. “Liberal Institutionalism.” International Organization and Global Governance, edited by Thomas Weiss and Rorden Wilkenson, Routledge, 2018.

Johnson, T., and J. Urpelainen. “The more things change, the more they stay the same: Developing countries’ unity at the nexus of trade and environmental policy.” Review of International Organizations, Jan. 2019. Scopus, doi:10.1007/s11558-018-9336-1. Full Text

Johnson, T. L., and Johannes Urpelainen. “The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same? Developing Countries’ Unity in International Politics.Review of International Organizations, Springer Verlag, Nov. 2018.

Johnson, T. “Envisioning the invisible: Nonstate actors in international affairs.” International Studies Review, vol. 18, no. 4, Dec. 2016, pp. 722–24. Scopus, doi:10.1093/isr/viv006. Full Text

Johnson, T. “Cooperation, co-optation, competition, conflict: international bureaucracies and non-governmental organizations in an interdependent world.” Review of International Political Economy, vol. 23, no. 5, Sept. 2016, pp. 737–67. Scopus, doi:10.1080/09692290.2016.1217902. Full Text

Heiss, A., and T. Johnson. “Internal, interactive, and institutional factors: A unified framework for understanding international nongovernmental organizations.” International Studies Review, vol. 18, no. 3, Jan. 2016, pp. 528–41. Scopus, doi:10.1093/isr/viv014. Full Text Open Access Copy

Johnson, T. A. N. A. “Information Revelation and Structural Supremacy: The World Trade Organization’s Incorporation of Environmental Policy.” The Review of International Organizations, vol. 10, no. 2, 2015, pp. 207–29. Manual, doi:10.1007/s11558-015-9215-y. Full Text

Johnson, T., and J. Urpelainen. “International bureaucrats and the formation of intergovernmental organizations: Institutional design discretion sweetens the pot.” International Organization, vol. 68, no. 1, Jan. 2014, pp. 177–209. Scopus, doi:10.1017/S0020818313000349. Full Text Open Access Copy

Johnson, T. “Looking beyond States: Openings for international bureaucrats to enter the institutional design process.” Review of International Organizations, vol. 8, no. 4, Jan. 2013, pp. 499–519. Scopus, doi:10.1007/s11558-013-9166-0. Full Text

Johnson, T. “Institutional design and bureaucrats' impact on political control.” Journal of Politics, vol. 75, no. 1, Jan. 2013, pp. 183–97. Scopus, doi:10.1017/S0022381612000953. Full Text

Johnson, T., and U. Johannes. “A strategic theory of regime integration and separation.” International Organization, vol. 66, no. 4, Sept. 2012, pp. 645–77. Scopus, doi:10.1017/S0020818312000264. Full Text