Image of Prof. Stephen Bell

Professor in Political Economy


Chair RHD Milestones Committee
Qualifications: BSc (Hons), PhD, FASSA
511, General Purpose North 3 (#39A)
+61 7 3365 7013
+61 7 3365 1388

Research Expertise

  • Governance and Public Policy
  • Australian Politics
  • Political Economy

Teaching Interests

POLS7101 Dynamics of Governance
POLS7107 Globalisation, International Political Economy and Development


Stephen Bell is Professor in Political Economy at the School of Political Science and International Studies at the University of Queensland. Prior to joining UQ in 1999, Stephen held positions at Griffith University, the University of New England, and the University of Tasmania.  He has held visiting positions at the ANU and at the Copenhagen Business School. He has been appointed as an Honourary Professor in the Department of Politics, University of Sheffield. He served as Head of the School of Government at the University of Tasmania and Head of the School of Political Science and International Studies at UQ.  Stephen is an elected Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia.

Professor Bell's main teaching and research interests focus on questions of governance and institutional development, with special reference to the politics of economic policy. Theoretically, his work is focused on institiutional theory and explanations of institutional change. His current empirical work focuses on Chinese central banking and bank reform, as well as a four country study of banking crises in the context of the Global Financial Crisis. Stephen Bell has produced nine books and over 80 journal articles and book chapters, a selection of these appear below. He is the recipient of  four major ARC Large Grants and Discovery research grants.

Selected Publications

Books (Authored) 
  • Bell, Stephen and Hui Feng. 2014. Too Important to Fail: The Politics of Banking Reform in China, forthcoming
  • Bell, Stephen and Andrew HIndmoor. 2014. Masters of the Universe but Slave of the Market: Bankers and the Great Financial Meltdown... and how some banks avoided the Carnage, forthcoming: Harvard University Press
  • Bell, Stephen and Hui Feng. 2013.  The Rise of the People's Bank of China: The Politics of Institutional Development in China's Monetary and Financial Systems.  Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.
  • Bell, Stephen and Andrew Hindmoor. 2009, Rethinking Governance: The Centrality of the State in Modern Societies, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
  • Bell, Stephen. 2004. Australia’s Money Mandarins: The Reserve Bank and the Politics of Money. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 
  • Bell, Stephen. 1997. Ungoverning the Economy: The Political Economy of Australian Economic Policy. Melbourne: Oxford University Press
  • Bell, Stephen. 1993. Australian Manufacturing and the State: The Politics of Industry Policy in Post-War Era. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 
Books (Edited)
  • Bell, Stephen (ed). 2002. The Institutional Dynamics of Australian Economic Governance. Melbourne: Oxford University Press.
  • Bell, Stephen (ed). 2002.  The Unemployment Crisis: Which Way Out? Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Bell, Stephen and Brian Head (eds). 1994.  State, Economy and Public Policy in Australia.  Melbourne: Oxford University Press.
  • Bell, Stephen and John Wanna (eds). 1992.  Business-Government Relations in Australia.  Sydney: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.
Refereed Journal Articles (selected)
  • Bell, Stephen. and Hindmoor, Andrew. "Rethinking the Structured Power of Business: The Strange Case of the Australian Mining Tax", forthcoming, New Political Economy.
  • Bell, Stephen.  "How Proximate and 'Meta-institutional' Contexts Shape Institutional Change:  Explaining the Rise of the People's Bank of China", forthcoming, Political Studies.
  • Bell, Stephen 2012. ‘Where are the Institutions? The Limits of Vivien Schmidt’s Constructivism’, British Journal of Political Science, 42:714 -719.
  • Bell, Stephen. 2012. ‘The Power of Ideas: The Ideational Shaping of the Structural Power of Business', Internatonal Studies Quarterly, 56:661 - 673.
  • Bell, Stephen. and Hindmoor, Andrew. 2012. ‘Governance without Government? The Case of the Forest Stewardship Council, Public Administration 90:144-159.. 
  • Bell, Stephen. 2011. ‘Do We Really Need a New ‘Constructivist Institutionalism’ to Explain Institutional Change?’, British Journal of Political Science, 44: 883-906.
  • Bell, Stephen, Hindmoor, Andrew and Mols, Frank. 2010. Persuasion as governance: A state-centric relational perspective. Public Administration, 88 3: 851-870.
  • Bell, Stephen. and Feng, Hui. 2009,  'Institutional Change Chinese Style: Reforming the Stock Market', Political Studies, 57:117-40.
  • Bell, Stephen. and Beeson, Mark. 2009, ‘The G20 and International Economic Governance: Hegemony, Collectivism or Both?’, Global Governance,15: 67-86.
  • Bell, Stephen. and Quiggin, John. 2008, ‘The Limits of Markets and the Politics of Water Management in Rural Australia’, Environmental Politics, 17: 712-29.
  • Bell, Stephen. 2008, ‘Rethinking the Role of the State: Explaining Business Collective Action at the Business Council of Australia’, Polity, 40:464-87.
  • Bell, Stephen. 2007, ‘A Victim of its Own Success: Internationalisation, Neoliberalism and Organisational Involution at the Businesses Council of Australia’ Politics and Society, 34; 543-70. 
  • Bell, Stephen. and Feng, Hui. 2007. ‘Made in China: IT Infrastructure Policy and the Politics of Trade Opening in Post-WTO China’ Review of International Political Economy, 14: 49-76. 
  • Bell, Stephen. and Quiggin, John. 2006. ‘Asset Price Instability and Policy Responses: The Legacy of Liberalisation’. Journal of Economic Issues 40(3): 629-649. 
  • Bell, Stephen. and Park, Alex. 2006. ‘The Problematic Metagoverance of Networks: Water Reform in New South Wales’. Journal of Public Policy 26(1): 63-83. 
  • Bell, Stephen. 2005. ‘How Tight Are the Policy Constraints?: The Policy Convergence Thesis, Institutionally Situated Actors and Expansionary Monetary Policy in Australia’. New Political Economy 10(1): 67-92. 
  • Bell, Stephen. 2004. 'Inflation-Plus Targeting at the Reserve Bank of Australia', Australian Economic Review, 37: 391-401.
  • Bell, Stephen. 2002. ‘The Limits of Rational Choice: New Institutionalism in the Test Bed of Central Banking Politics in Australia’. Political Studies 50(3): 477-96. 
  • Bell, Stephen. 1995. ‘Between the Market and the State: The Role of Business Associations in Public Policy: Evidence from Australia’. Comparative Politics 28(1): 25-53.

Research Grants

ARC Discovery Grant (2011-2013) (DP110100612)
Investigators: Stephen Bell and Andrew Hindmoor.
The institutional dynamics of banking crisis and reform in the United Kingdom, United States, Australia and Canada.
The recent banking crisis is an event of compelling policy significance. This project examines its causes and, in particular, aims to explain why the Australian and Canadian banking systems proved relatively resilient during the crisis and why the United Kingdom and United States proved so vulnerable. 
ARC Discovery Grant (2010-2012) (DP1093035)
Investigators: Stephen Bell and Hui Feng
Healing the Achilles Heel: The Politics of Banking Reform in China.
Reforming the dysfunctional banking industry and its regulatory system forms a critical part of China's effort to establish a modern financial infrastructure. This study explores the political and institutional dynamics that have shaped the reform process.  By doing so, this project sheds light on the current debates in relation to the emergent ‘regulatory state’ in China in the context of economic transition and China’s economic opening.
ARC Discovery Grant (2007-2009) (DP0774201)
Investigators: Stephen Bell and Hui Feng
From Periphery to Central: the Politics of China's Central Banking Reform
This project charts and explains the rising authority of China’s central bank – the People’s Bank of China – within the Chinese party-state. It does so using historical institutionalist theory as well as an empirical examination of the People’s Bank’s policies in monetary, exchange rate and financial sector reform since the late 1970s.
ARC Large Grant (1999-2000) (A79905747)
Investigator: Stephen Bell
The Reserve Bank and the Political Economy of Monetary Policy in Australia Since Financial Deregulation
The research is primarily a study of the politics of monetary policy and the changing role of the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) in the period since financial deregulation in 1983.  The study seeks to examine and explains shifts in monetary policy and the politics of monetary policy process in a direction marked by the rising importance and policy independence of the RBA.  The latter marks a fundamental change in government-RBA relationships.  The study will fill a large empirical gap in Australian literature and will locate Australian changes in a wider pattern of similar change in other countries.

Current and Research PhD Supervision

  • State Capacity and China's Oil Security
  • Business - Government Relations and Corruption in Indonesia
  • Alliance Capitalism and the Wireless Communication Sector in China
  • Fiscal Politics and Local - Central Relations in China
  • The Governance of Urban Water
  • Associative Governance of Fisheries in Europe and Asia
Please click here for more comprehensive information on Professor Bell's research and interests.


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