Margaret Levi (born 1947) is an American political scientist and author, noted for her work in comparative political economy, labor politics, and democratic theory, notably on the origins and effects of trustworthy government.
She is the Director of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences (CASBS) at Stanford and Professor of Political Science, Stanford University, and Jere L. Bacharach Professor Emerita of International Studies in the Department of Political Science at the University of Washington. She has been a Senior Fellow at the Watson Institute for International Studies, Brown University. She held the Chair in Politics, United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, 2009-13. At the University of Washington she was director of the CHAOS (Comparative Historical Analysis of Organizations and States) Center and formerly the Harry Bridges Chair and Director of the Harry Bridges Center for Labor Studies.
Levi's book Of Rule and Revenue (1988), a study of the institutions of state revenue production, helped pioneer rational choice approaches in comparative politics. She has since pushed rational choice analysis into new substantive areas, for example, in examining people's acceptance of military conscription in Consent, Dissent, and Patriotism (1997).
She is also the co-author of Analytic Narratives (Princeton University Press, 1998) Cooperation Without Trust? (Russell Sage, 2005), and Labor Standards in International Supply Chains (Edward Elgar, 2015). In the Interest of Others (Princeton, 2013), co-authored with John Ahlquist, explores how organizations provoke member willingness to act beyond material interest. In other work, she investigates the conditions under which people come to believe their governments are legitimate and the consequences of those beliefs for compliance, consent, and the rule of law. Her research continues to focus on how to improve the quality of government. She is also committed to understanding and improving supply chains so that the goods we consume are produced in a manner that sustains both the workers and the environment.
Levi started The Brand Responsibility Project—a research project to document the campaign and dispute settlement between Nike, Inc. and the Central General de Trabajadores of Honduras (CGT). CGT claimed that Nike was responsible for providing terminal compensation, benefits and priority rehiring for 1,800 factory employees following the 2009 bankruptcy and closure of two Honduran factories (Hugger and VisionTex) that were part of Nike's supply chain.
She earned her BA from Bryn Mawr College in 1968 and her PhD from Harvard University in 1974, the year she joined the faculty of the University of Washington. She became a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2001, a John Simon Guggenheim Fellow in 2002, and a member of the National Academy of Sciences in 2015. She served as president of the American Political Science Association from 2004 to 2005. In 2014 she received the William H. Riker Prize in Political Science. She was elected to the American Philosophical Society in 2018.
She was general editor of Cambridge Studies in Comparative Politics and is co-general editor of the Annual Review of Political Science. Levi serves on the boards of the: Social Science Research Council (SSRC); Institute For Advanced Study in Princeton; Center for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences (CEACS) in Madrid; Scholar and Research, Group of the World Justice Project, and Berggruen Institutes Board. Her fellowships include the Woodrow Wilson in 1968, German Marshall in 1988-9, and the Center for Advanced Study of the Behavioral Sciences in 1993-1994. She has lectured and been a visiting fellow at the Australian National University, the European University Institute, the Max Planck Institute in Cologne, the Juan March Institute, the Budapest Collegium, Cardiff University, Oxford University, Bergen University, and Peking University.
Levi and her husband, Robert Kaplan, are avid collectors of Australian Aboriginal art. Ancestral Modern, an exhibition drawn from their collection, was on view at the Seattle Art Museum (SAM) in 2012. Yale University Press and SAM co-published the catalogue.
- "In the Interest of Others: Organizations and Social Activism." 2013. Princeton University Press. (written with John Ahlquist).
- "Why We Need a New Theory of Government." 2006. Perspectives on Politics 4(1): 5-19.
- Cooperation without Trust? 2005. Russell Sage Foundation. (written with Karen Cook and Russell Hardin).
- "Organizing Power: Prospects for the American Labor Movement." 2003. Perspectives on Politics 1(1): 45–68.
- "The Economic Turn in Comparative Politics." 2000. Comparative Political Studies 33(6/7): 822–844.
- "Political Trust and Trustworthiness." 2000. Annual Review of Political Science 3:475-507. (written with Laura Stoker).
- Competition and Cooperation: Conversations with Nobelists about Economics and Political Science. 1999. Russell Sage Foundation. (edited with James Alt and Elinor Ostrom).
- Analytic Narratives. 1998. Princeton University Press. (written with Robert Bates, Avner Greif, Jean-Laurent Rosenthal, and Barry Weingast).
- Trust and Governance. 1998. Russell Sage Foundation. (edited with Valerie Braithwaite).
- "Social and Unsocial Capital: A Review Essay of Robert Putnam's Making Democracy Work." Politics & Society 24(1): 45-55.
- Consent, Dissent, and Patriotism. 1997. Cambridge University Press.
- Marxism. 1991. Edward Elgar. (editor).
- The Limits of Rationality. 1990. University of Chicago Press. (edited with Karen Cook).
- Of Rule and Revenue. 1988. University of California Press.
- Bureaucratic Insurgency: The Case of Police Unions. 1977. Lexington Books.
- Brand Responsibility Project Records 2004-2012.0.84 cubic feet (2 boxes) of textual materials plus 83.8 GB of digital files.
- Hanson, Stephen, Joseph Jupille, David Olson, and Barry Weingast. 2004. "Margaret Levi: Institutions, Individuals, Organizations, and Trust in Democratic Regimes." PS: Political Science and Politics 37(4): 895-898.
- John Ahlquist and Margaret Levi Research Materials for the Book In the Interest of Others: Organizations and Social Activism. 2006-2012. 5.57 cubic feet (8 boxes and 1 oversize folder)