Kim Pernell 2016Congratulations to Professor Kim Pernell whose PhD dissertation was recently awarded the Richard J. Herrnstein Prize from Harvard University. Professor Pernell finished her dissertation in the spring of 2016 before joining us at the University of Toronto (St. George) this summer. The Richard J. Herrnstein Prize is awarded annually by the Graduate School of Arts and Science at Harvard to the dissertation produced that year that best exhibits “excellent scholarship, originality and breadth of thought, and a commitment to intellectual independence.” It honours the memory of Richard J. Hernstein and the academic values he espoused.

Professor Pernell’s dissertation is called The Causes of the Divergent Development of Banking Regulation in the U.S., Canada, and Spain. In it, she answers the question, “why did different countries develop different systems of banking regulation in the years leading up to the credit crisis of the late 2000s, despite adhering to a common transnational regulatory agreement (the 1988 Basel Capital Accord)?” American banks suffered massive losses, while Canadian banks emerged relatively unscathed. Spanish banks also experienced major losses, but the outcomes would have been much worse had Spanish regulators not imposed such strict prudential standards. Pernell’s research shows that banking regulators from different countries adopted different policies because they subscribed to fundamentally different conceptions of economic order, which can be traced back many decades. Her work highlights the ways in which cultural/cognitive institutions structure policymaking, even in the modern globalized and transnational era.

In addition to developing this research into a book, Professor Pernell is also currently conducting research that studies the impact of shareholder value management on risk-taking in the financial industry, the unintended consequences of the rise of a new professional (the chief risk officer), and how changes in banking systems have shaped trends in socioeconomic inequality. We are fortunate to have Professor Pernell in the Department and heartily congratulate her on this award.