Salo Vinocur Coslovsky

Salo Vinocur Coslovsky
Associate Professor of International Development

NYU | Wagner Faculty 295 Lafayette Street New York NY 10012 USA
Salo Coslovsky's research analyzes how governments in developing countries build legal authority and use it to influence routine business practices. He is particularly interested in the enforcement of labor, environmental, food safety, and similar regulations that protect vulnerable groups from abuse. This is a topic of much contemporary concern as it addresses the twin challenge of how markets can simultaneously be more vibrant and more humane. This topic is also forward looking, as it examines how governments can promote development even when they are restricted by international treaties, relatively free trade, and the need to attract transnational capital flows.
 

Professor Coslovsky conducts most of his research in Brazil, and has studied numerous industries, including the production of pig-iron, sugar and ethanol, brazil-nuts, farmed shrimps, and more. In addition to his academic work, Coslovsky has advised Brazilian think-tanks and government agencies, including the Ministry of Environment, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Forest Service on matters of policy design and implementation. 

 

He received an M.A. in Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University; Ph.D. in Urban Studies and Planning, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

 

His personal website can be found at http://salocoslovsky.wordpress.com/  It contains the working paper version of all his papers.

 

 

 

 

Semester Course
Spring 2016 PADM-GP.2201.001 Institutions, Governance, and International Development

This course introduces the theory and practice of institutional reform in developing and transitional countries. It reviews the evolution of international development paradigms, examining how the role, structure, and management of institutions, the public sector, and non-governmental organizations have changed in response to shifting economic and political trends, with a particular emphasis on accountability. The focus is on major institutional and managerial reforms intended to promote good governance as less developed economies liberalize and their societies democratize. Key topics include issues of property rights, knowledge and innovation, learning, the rule of law, decentralization/intergovernmental relations, civil service reforms, anticorruption, citizen engagement, and public-private partnerships. In addition, the roles of international development aid and the external institutions that support institutional and managerial reform in developing and transitional countries are introduced. The course concludes with a synthetic review and a comparative case study exercise.


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Fall 2015 PADM-GP.2201.001 Institutions, Governance, and International Development

This course introduces the theory and practice of institutional reform in developing and transitional countries. It reviews the evolution of international development paradigms, examining how the role, structure, and management of institutions, the public sector, and non-governmental organizations have changed in response to shifting economic and political trends, with a particular emphasis on accountability. The focus is on major institutional and managerial reforms intended to promote good governance as less developed economies liberalize and their societies democratize. Key topics include issues of property rights, knowledge and innovation, learning, the rule of law, decentralization/intergovernmental relations, civil service reforms, anticorruption, citizen engagement, and public-private partnerships. In addition, the roles of international development aid and the external institutions that support institutional and managerial reform in developing and transitional countries are introduced. The course concludes with a synthetic review and a comparative case study exercise.


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Spring 2015 PHD-GP.5911.001 Doctoral Research Colloquium

The NYU Wagner Doctoral Research Colloquium is a seminar series at which prominent researchers present current work on pressing social issues. The presenters represent a range of disciplines and methodological approaches, and are affiliated with institutions from around the country. This series is open to doctoral students and faculty, and doctoral students must register for one year of the colloqiuium as part of their program requirements.


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Fall 2014 PHD-GP.5910.001 Doctoral Research Colloquium

The NYU Wagner Doctoral Research Colloquium is a seminar series at which prominent researchers present current work on pressing social issues. The presenters represent a range of disciplines and methodological approaches, and are affiliated with institutions from around the country. This series is open to doctoral students and faculty, and doctoral students must register for one year of the colloqiuium as part of their program requirements.


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Spring 2014 PADM-GP.2201.002 Institutions, Governance, and International Development

This course introduces the theory and practice of institutional reform in developing and transitional countries. It reviews the evolution of international development paradigms, examining how the role, structure, and management of institutions, the public sector, and non-governmental organizations have changed in response to shifting economic and political trends, with a particular emphasis on accountability. The focus is on major institutional and managerial reforms intended to promote good governance as less developed economies liberalize and their societies democratize. Key topics include issues of property rights, knowledge and innovation, learning, the rule of law, decentralization/intergovernmental relations, civil service reforms, anticorruption, citizen engagement, and public-private partnerships. In addition, the roles of international development aid and the external institutions that support institutional and managerial reform in developing and transitional countries are introduced. The course concludes with a synthetic review and a comparative case study exercise.


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Fall 2012 PADM-GP.2201. Institutions, Governance, and International Development

This course introduces the theory and practice of institutional reform in developing and transitional countries. It reviews the evolution of international development paradigms, examining how the role, structure, and management of institutions, the public sector, and non-governmental organizations have changed in response to shifting economic and political trends, with a particular emphasis on accountability. The focus is on major institutional and managerial reforms intended to promote good governance as less developed economies liberalize and their societies democratize. Key topics include issues of property rights, knowledge and innovation, learning, the rule of law, decentralization/intergovernmental relations, civil service reforms, anticorruption, citizen engagement, and public-private partnerships. In addition, the roles of international development aid and the external institutions that support institutional and managerial reform in developing and transitional countries are introduced. The course concludes with a synthetic review and a comparative case study exercise.


Download Syllabus
Spring 2012 PADM-GP.2201. Institutions, Governance, and International Development

This course introduces the theory and practice of institutional reform in developing and transitional countries. It reviews the evolution of international development paradigms, examining how the role, structure, and management of institutions, the public sector, and non-governmental organizations have changed in response to shifting economic and political trends, with a particular emphasis on accountability. The focus is on major institutional and managerial reforms intended to promote good governance as less developed economies liberalize and their societies democratize. Key topics include issues of property rights, knowledge and innovation, learning, the rule of law, decentralization/intergovernmental relations, civil service reforms, anticorruption, citizen engagement, and public-private partnerships. In addition, the roles of international development aid and the external institutions that support institutional and managerial reform in developing and transitional countries are introduced. The course concludes with a synthetic review and a comparative case study exercise.


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Date Publication/Paper
2016

Coslovsky, Salo, Pires, Roberto & Bignami, Renato 2016. Labor and industrial relations in Brazil Forthcoming in an edited volume on labor relations in developing countries. Oxford University Press. Douglas Fuller, Howard Gospel and Hyunji Kwon, eds.

Coslovsky, Salo 2016. Employment and Development under Globalization: State and Economy in Brazil By Samuel Cohn, in Social Forces, March 2016, online advanced access.

2015

Coslovsky, Salo and Amit Nigam 2015. Building prosecutorial autonomy from within: The transformation of the Ministério Público in Brazil
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Abstract

How do prosecutors acquire professional prerogatives, organizational autonomy, and legal authority? In contrast to previous research, which identifies top-down, bottom-up and outside-in models of reform, we show that government officials can engage in transformation from within their own ranks. Specifically, we examine how Brazilian prosecutors evolved from a low profile assemblage of transient and politically dependent prosecutors into one of the most autonomous and authoritative public agencies in the country. We find that they created cohesion among their ranks, lobbied incessantly, and crafted alliances that nonetheless keep their options open. Thanks to this responsive and pragmatic strategy, they took full advantage of ongoing turbulence in Brazilian politics: whenever the opportunity context expanded, they advanced their cause; whenever the context contracted, they strengthened their mobilizing structures and protected their gains. While previous research looks at one transition at a time, this longitudinal study shows the heterogeneous strategies of long-term reform.

Coslovsky, Salo 2015. Beyond Bureaucracy: How prosecutors and public defenders enforce urban planning laws in Sao Paulo, Brazil International Journal of Urban and Regional Research
Abstract

Cities need law to thrive but it is not clear how abstract texts become tangible policy outcomes. Existing research on the role of law in urban affairs conceives law as either an algorithm that shapes urban life, or a reflection of political disputes. The former assumes that the meaning of law is obvious; the latter claims it is irrelevant. In contrast to these views, this paper argues that laws are multipurpose instruments that acquire a specific function when enforced by those government agents who operate at the frontlines of public service. To understand what these agents do and why, this paper conducts a qualitative study of the Ministério Público and the Defensoria Pública in São Paulo, Brazil. It finds that these government agencies are not cohesive bureaucracies but heterarchies composed of distinct internal factions with different evaluative principles. Moreover, officials within them are not isolated from other entities in society but tightly entangled with them, and these connections influences what officials do. Finally, enforcement agents are not always resigned to solving conflicts as they arrive. Rather, they strive to find acceptable solutions in the interstices of existing conditions or even change the circumstances that created the conflict in the first place.

2013

Coslovsky, Salo and Richard Locke 2013. Parallel paths to enforcement: Private compliance, public regulation, and labor standards in the Brazilian sugar sector Politics & Society
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Abstract

In recent years, global corporations and national governments have been enacting a growing number of codes of conduct and public regulations to combat dangerous and degrading work conditions in global supply chains. At the receiving end of this activity, local producers must contend with multiple regulatory regimes, but it is unclear how these regimes interact and what results, if any, they produce. This paper examines this dynamic in the sugar sector in Brazil. It finds that although private and public agents rarely communicate, let alone coordinate with one another they nevertheless reinforce each other’s actions. Public regulators use their legal powers to outlaw extreme forms of outsourcing. Private auditors use the trust they command as company insiders to instigate a process of workplace transformation that facilitates compliance. Together, their parallel actions block the low road and guide targeted firms to a higher road in which improved labor standards are not only possible but even desirable.

Coslovsky, Salo 2013. Enforcing food quality and safety standards in Brazil: The case of COBRACANA The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 2013, 649 (1), pp.122-138
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Abstract

Globalization of production has been complemented by increasingly stricter product quality and safety regulations. This trend is particularly acute in the food and beverage sectors, which puts enormous strain on producers from developing nations. This paper examines the trajectory of a cooperative of sugarcane, sugar and ethanol producers from Brazil that, once confronted with this challenge, failed to meet the standards but ultimately came around. It credits the coop’s turnaround to three variables: (a) a new cost accounting methodology that monetized some of the differences in product quality and attenuated tensions among the membership; (b) a low-cost but high-powered system of regulatory incentives that subverted rigid hierarchies and empowered middle-managers vis-à-vis top-executives; and (c) the action of external auditors who acted not as police-officers or consultants, but as conduits who reestablished information flows and helped create a business atmosphere conducive to productive change.

Coslovsky, Salo 2013. Economic development without pre-requisites: How Bolivian firms met food safety standards and dominated the global brazil-nut market World Development
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Abstract

Brazilian firms used to dominate the brazil nut (BN) market to such an extent that the product still carries the country’s name. Presently, 77% of all BNs are processed and exported by Bolivia, a country with far fewer resources than its neighbor. This paper analyzes the impact of EU regulations on the global BN market. It finds that Bolivian producers prevailed because they joined forces to revamp their manufacturing practices and meet EU sanitary standards despite continued mutual mistrust. In contrast, Brazilian producers have been unable to work cooperatively and lost access to the European market entirely.

Coslovsky, Salo 2013. Flying under the radar? The state and the enforcement of labor laws in Brazil Oxford Development Studies
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Abstract

In recent years, developing countries have deregulated, privatized and liberalized their economies. Surprisingly, they have also retained or even strengthened their labor regulations. These contrasting policy orientations create a novel challenge without obvious solutions. To understand how developing country states can ensure reasonable levels of labor standards without compromising the ability of domestic firms to compete, this paper examines how labor inspectors and prosecutors intervened in four troublesome industries in Brazil. It finds that regulatory enforcement agents use their discretion and legal powers to realign incentives, reshape interests, and redistribute the risks, costs and benefits of compliance across a tailor-made assemblage of public, private and non-profit agents adjacent to the violations. By fulfilling this role, these agents become the foot-soldiers of a post-neoliberal or neo-developmental state.

2011

Coslovsky, S., Pires, R. & Silbey, S. 2011. The Pragmatic Politics of Regulatory Enforcement Handbook on the Politics of Regulation, edited by David Levi-Faur, London: Edward Elgar Publishers
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Abstract

This chapter describes regulatory enforcement as an intrinsically political endeavor. We argue that regulatory enforcement, as enacted daily by front-line
enforcers around the world, consists of the production of local agreements and arrangements that realign interests, reshape conflicts, and redistribute the risks, costs, and benefits of doing business and complying with the law. We argue that, through their transactions, both the regulators and the regulated reshape both their interests and the environment in which they operate, reconstructing their perceptions of and preferences for compliance. We call this phenomenon the “sub-politics of regulatory enforcement,” and claim that it provides a springboard for a pragmatic approach to better regulation

Coslovsky, S. 2011. How Brazilian prosecutors enforce labor and environmental laws: The organizational basis of creative problem-solving Regulation and Governance (special issue)
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Abstract

Brazil's 8,000 prosecutors sit at the crux of the country's legal system, deciding who gets indicted and sued for common crimes and a wide array of civil violations. In many cases, particularly those concerning the most recalcitrant labor and environmental violations, prosecutors realize that compliance is not only a matter of avarice or ignorance. To the opposite, in these cases compliance requires costly and risky changes in business practices that the managers of the implicated firms are unwilling or unable to carry out on their own. Rather than prosecute, which they anticipate will eliminate jobs and undermine business profitability, or clarify the law, which they fear will be futile, prosecutors reach out and assemble a network of institutions willing to cover some of the costs and insure some of the risks associated with these changes. Ultimately, they lead an effort of inter-institutional root-cause analysis and joint-problem solving, and through this endeavor they make compliance the easiest and most obvious choice for all involved. This paper briefly describes this kind of creative problem-solving and then it analyzes how this government agency encourages and sustains this kind of deviant practice within its ranks.

2009

Silbey, S., Huising, R. & Coslovsky, S.V. 2009. The "Sociological Citizen": Relational Interdependence in Law and Organizations L'Année Sociologique, v. 59, n'1, p.201-229.
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Abstract

In this paper we describe three examples of what we call “the sociological citizen,” environmental health and safety workers, law enforcement officers, and firm managers who see their work and themselves as links in a complex web of interactions and processes rather than as offices of delimited responsibilities and interests.  Instead of focusing closely and only sporadically taking account of the larger connections and reverberations of their actions, these actors view their organizations or states as the outcome of human decisions, indecisions, trial and error, rather than rationally organized action.  In this dynamic entity, they reconceive their own role as insignificant by itself yet essential to the whole.  We locate this observation first within Durkheim’s notion of social facts and later hypothesize that twentieth century social science may have contributed to reified conceptions of social relations unnecessarily obscuring this ground level everyday work of social construction.  We offer this conception of the sociological citizen as a hypothesis with which to explore more systematically variations in organizational performances and outcomes.   We suggest, first, that actors’ perception of the structure of social action and relational interdependence will vary in perhaps predictable ways. Second, apprehension of relational interdependence will, in turn, affect role performances.

In the Press

08/13/2015
The Myth of the Ethical Shopper
Huffington Post
08/12/2015
With Millennium Development Goals, world learns that setting targets works
Christian Science Monitor
07/15/2015
The Myth of the Ethical Shopper
Huffington Post
11/16/2009
Wagner Professor Examines Problem-solving Prosecutors in Brazil
NYU Today / Research