The International Political Economy (IPEC) major investigates the rich intersection between economics and politics in the global environment. It typically goes beyond the constituent disciplines by combining traditional economic concerns about efficiency with traditional political concerns regarding distributional issues and legitimacy in market and non-market environments. The resulting combination of insights provides a means of a better understanding of complex interactions at the local, national and international levels.
The special character of international political economy derives in part from the methodological and substantive overlaps between the traditional disciplines of economics and political science. Methodologically, political economy combines formal modeling, comparative methods, and statistical techniques to analyze and evaluate competing theories of economic and political phenomena. In addition to using methods standard in the constituent disciplines, political economy has pioneered in developing new tools for the study of collective action in the presence of conflicting private interests.
Substantively, International Political Economy analyzes how international and domestic political factors interact with economic factors to determine outcomes in a wide variety of areas, e.g., legislation, elections, government regulation, and policy formation in response to international phenomena; unilateral and multilateral activities involving international trade, finance, aid, and natural resources; local and international growth, development, and income distribution; and the interaction between business, governments, and diplomacy. The scope of inquiry ranges from mature capitalist countries to developing economies to nations making transitions to capitalist systems. In all cases, the focus is on issues that cannot be properly understood without insights gained from both international economics and international politics.