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Global benchmarking research wins Best Article Award

- Wits University

Research on the practice of global benchmarking receives award from the British International Studies Association.

The British International Studies Association (BISA) has awarded the Best Article Prize to Professor Joel Quirk, Head of Political Studies Department at Wits, and Dr André Broome from the University of Warwick for their research paper, Governing the world at a distance: the practice of global benchmarking. 

The researchers will receive the award at the BISA annual conference in Edinburgh on Wednesday, 15 June 2016.

BISA awards the Best Article Prize annually, in collaboration with Review of International Studies, an International Relations journal.

Quirk and Broome’s paper, which is the lead article in the 2015 Special Issue of the journal, focuses on the politics of numbers, and the proliferation of national, regional and global benchmarks, such as indices and rankings.

“The research project was motivated by a need to make sense of how global rankings of performance and behaviour have come to dominate how we think about our government,  and governments in other parts of the globe”, says Quirk. 

According to Quirk, rankings extend to international rankings of universities, which Wits and other universities in South Africa use to benchmark their institutional performance.

Quirk says, “this research looks at how benchmarks have created a distinctive model of what governments should look like, what they should value, and how they should behave. We are particularly interested in how and why benchmarks regulate and shape global politics through indirect forms of power, rather than through direct compulsion. This we describe in the article in terms of governance from a distance.”

Quirk is widely published in internationally acclaimed journals. His research focuses on slavery and abolition, human mobility and human rights, repairing historical wrongs, and history and politics of sub-Saharan Africa.

He is also a member of the International Scientific Committee of the UNESCO Slave Route Project, where he serves as Rapporteur, and he is an editor for open Democracy’s Beyond Trafficking and Slavery.