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Sanford Building 236, 201 Science Drive, Box 90245
Durham, NC 27708
236 Sanford Building, 201 Science Drive, Box 90245
Durham, NC 27708




Tana L. Johnson
Assistant Professor in the Sanford School of Public Policy
Assistant Professor of Political Science

Areas of Expertise


Other, Princeton University (2011)
Ph.D., University of Chicago (2010)


Tana Johnson is a political scientist working in the field of international relations and international/global policy.  Her research examines the operations and design of international institutions and international organizations, especially inter-governmental organizations in the United Nations (UN) system.  Key themes in her work include the difficulty of delegation and agency relationships, the limitations of nation-states, and the importance of institutional design.  Her research has been published in top outlets such as International Organization, Journal of Politics, Review of International Political Economy, and Review of International Organizations.

Johnson's book Organizational Progeny: Why Governments are Losing Control over the Proliferating Structures of Global Governance (Oxford University Press, 2014, 2017) shows that in a variety of policy areas, global governance structures are getting harder for national governments to control.  This is not only because the quantity and staffing of international organizations has mushroomed, but also because the people working in these organizations try to insulate any new organizations against governments' interference.  Organizational Progeny won the International Studies Association's 2015 prize for the best book on international organization and multilateralism.

Johnson has received research fellowships from the Niehaus Center for Globalization and Governance at Princeton University, and from the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions at Vanderbilt University. She also has been an energy policy fellow through the Global Governance Futures (GGF) program, which brings together practitioners and academics from the United States, Japan, India, Germany, China, and Brazil.  She is a research fellow with Earth System Governance.  In addition, she serves as a faculty advisor and instructor for Duke’s Program on Global Policy and Governance, which places graduate students in internships in international governmental and non-governmental organizations in Geneva, Switzerland.

Selected Grants