Robert W. Cox

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For other people with the same name, see Robert Cox.

Robert Cox CM (born 1926) is a Canadian scholar of political science and a former United Nations officer. He is cited as one of the intellectual leaders, along with Susan Strange, of the British School of International Political Economy[1] and is still active as a scholar after his formal retirement, writing and giving occasional lectures. He is professor emeritus of political science and social and political thought at York University.

He started work at the International Labor Organization (ILO) in Geneva, Switzerland in 1947, eventually serving as director of the ILO's International Institute for Labour Studies (1965–71). Following his departure from the ILO he taught at Columbia University. From 1977 to 1992 he was professor of political science at York University in Toronto, Canada. He was made a member of the Order of Canada in 2014.


Born in Montreal, Quebec, Cox graduated in 1946 from McGill University in Montreal, where he received a Master's degree in history. Following his graduation, he worked for the International Labor Organization (ILO), where he would remain for a quarter century, helping to set up and design the International Institute for Labor Studies.

In his academic career, Cox is known for his fierce independence and unwavering challenge of orthodoxy, as well as for his historical approach. While his initial scholarly contributions during his time at Columbia University were quite conventional and focused on international organizations, following from his experience in the ILO, he soon adopted a more radical perspective. During his time at York University, he began to reassert himself in a historical manner, reflective of his previous training at McGill University, which enabled him to take on more ambitious themes. Cox describes his academic interests as no less than understanding "the structures that underlie the world".[2]


  • The Anatomy of Influence : decision making in international organization (1973), with Harold K. Jacobson
  • Production, Power and World Order (1987)
  • 'Social Forces, States and World Orders: Beyond International Relations Theory' (1981) Millennium 10(2) 126-155
  • Universal Foreigner: The Individual and the World (2014). Autobiography.

Edited Works[edit]

  • Approaches to World Order (co-editor, 1996)
  • The Political Economy of a Plural World: Critical Reflections on Power, Morals, and Civilization (co-editor, 2002)


  1. ^ Cohen, B. (2008) International Political Economy: An Intellectual History, Princeton: Princeton University Press
  2. ^ Cox, Robert (1999). "Conversation". New Political Economy. 4 (3): 389–398. 

External links[edit]