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People: Research Faculty

Jenna Bednar

Faculty Associate


Faculty Associate​, Center for Political Studies
Professor, Department of Political Science


Ph.D. 1998 Stanford University (Political Science)


Jenna Bednar’s Curriculum Vitae (CV)
Jenna Bednar’s Personal Website
Jenna Bednar’s Google Scholar Profile


Professor Bednar’s research combines positive political theory and systems theory to study how formal institutions, such as laws, electoral rules, or constitutions, remain effective in complex environments. She considers institutions not in isolation but as part of a system and focus on (i) how institutional interactions can improve functionality (ii) how institutional features enable systemic response to perturbations and (iii) how the interplay between culture and institutions contributes to social achievements. Her research falls into three broad categories: the first includes a book and several papers that address the robustness of federal systems, the second consists of theoretical and experimental work on cultural evolution and institutional performance, and the third contains essays, an empirical paper, and public policy related projects that push my ideas into more applied realms such as campaign contributions, transboundary water systems, and environmental sustainability.


Institute for Social Research (ISR), University of Michigan
Room 4259, 426 Thompson Street, Ann Arbor, MI 48104–2321, United States

Phone: 734–615–5165
Fax: 734–764–3341
Email: [email protected]

University of Michigan Online Directory listing

Selected Publications

Please also see Jenna Bednar’s Curriculum Vitae (CV) or Google Scholar Profile

Bednar, Jenna. 2009. The Robust Federation: Principles of Design. Cambridge University Press (Political Economy of Institutions and Decisions series).

Bednar, Jenna. Forthcoming 2014. “Subsidiarity and Robustness: Building the Adaptive Efficiency of Federal Systems.” NOMOS LV: Federalism and Subsidiarity, eds James E. Fleming and Jacob Levy. New York: NYU Press.

Bednar, Jenna, Scott E. Page, and Jameson Toole. 2012. “Revised-Path Dependence.” Political Analysis20(2):146-156.

Bednar, Jenna, Yan Chen, Tracy Xiao Liu, and Scott E. Page. 2012. “Behavioral Spillovers and Cognitive Load in Multiple Games: An Experimental Study.” Games and Economic Behavior 74(1):12-31.

Bednar, Jenna and Scott E. Page. 2007. “Can Game(s) Theory Explain Culture? The Emergence of Cultural Behavior Within Multiple Games.” Rationality and Society 19(1):65-97.