Associate Professor Elizabeth Thurbon

Deputy Head of School (Research), Scientia Fellow and Associate Professor in International Relations

BEc. (Soc. Sci) (Hons I, Uni Medal) PhD Syd

School of Social Sciences


+61 (2) 93853622
+61 (2) 9385 1040
137 Morven Brown
Kensington Campus

Elizabeth is Deputy Head of School (Research), Scientia Fellow and Associate Professor of International Relations / International Political Economy at the School of Social Sciences, UNSW Sydney. She has also held Visiting Fellowships at Seoul National University (Korea Foundation Fellow) and China Foreign Affairs University. Her research specialism is the political economy of techno-industrial development and change, with a particular focus on East Asia and Australia. Her most significant contributions to the field examine the rise and transformation of Northeast Asia’s developmental states, and the relationship between international trade and financial integration and the pursuit of transformative economic and social goals in Australia and the region. She has written widely on these topics for academic and popular audiences. Her most recent book Developmental Mindset: Revival of Financial Activism in South Korea (2016, Cornell University Press) examines the ways in which developmental ways of thinking have informed a strategic approach to financial policy in South Korea from the 1960s to the present. She is also the co-author (with Linda Weiss and John Mathews) of two popular books on Australian political economy: National Insecurity (2007, Allen & Unwin) and How to Kill a Country (2004, Allen & Unwin), the latter short-listed for the Queensland Premier’s Literary Award for Advancing Public Debate. She has been a regular contributor to public debates on Australian trade and industry policy and was Guest Editor of a 2015 Special Issue of the Australian Journal of International Affairs dedicated to this topic.

Elizabeth is a Founding Member and Chair of the FASS Globalisation & Governance Research Network. She is also a Board Member of the Jubilee Australia Research Centre, a NGO dedicated to research-based advocacy on questions of social, economic and environmental justice in the Asia-Pacific, with a particular focus on Australian government and corporate accountability:

She holds a Ph.D. in Government (International Political Economy) from the University of Sydney. She also completed her Economics (Social Sciences) Degree at Sydney University, where she was awarded first class Honours and the University Medal for Academic Excellence.

Research Areas

Globalisation, development, trade, developmental states and the developmental mindset, government-business relations, industrial transformation, financial activism, institutional/ideational change, state capacity.



    • Thurbon E, 2016, Developmental mindset: The revival of financial activism in South Korea
    • Weiss L;Thurbon EC;Mathews J, 2007, National Insecurity, Original, Allen and Unwin, St Leonards, NSW
    • Weiss L;Thurbon EC;Mathews J, 2004, How to Kill a Country, 1, Allen and Unwin, St Leonards, NSW

    Book Chapters

    • Thurbon E, 2017, 'Lessons from South Korea: A developmental mindset makes a difference when governing the financial economy', in Sovereign Debt Crises: What have We Learned?, pp. 236 - 253,
    • Thurbon EC, 2017, 'Lessons from South Korea: A Developmental Mindset Makes a Difference when Governing the Financial Economy', in Bohoslavsky JP; Raffer K (ed.), Sovereign Debt Crises: What Have We Learned?, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 236 - 253,
    • Thurbon EC, 2016, 'Trade and Industry Policy: The Growing Partisan Divide', in Beeson M; Hameiri S (ed.), Navigating the New International Disorder: Australia In World Affairs 2011-2015, Oxford University Press
    • Thurbon EC;Weiss L, 2016, 'The Developmental State in the late 20th Century', in Jhosh J; Kattel R; Reinert E (ed.), Handbook of Alternative Theories of Economic Development, Edward Elgar
    • Thurbon E, 2014, 'Australia: Public purchasing and innovation: The Australian case', in Public Procurement, Innovation and Policy: International Perspectives, pp. 35 - 63,
    • Weiss L;Thurbon E, 2014, 'The Business of Buying American: Public Procurement as Trade Strategy', in Ikenberry J; Trubowitz P (ed.), American Foreign Policy: Theoretical Essays, edn. 7, Oxford University Press
    • Thurbon EC, 2013, 'Globalization and Industrial Governance: A View from Australia', in Tazreiter C; Tham SY (ed.), Globalization and Social Transformation in the Asia-Pacific, Palgrave Macmillan, Houndmills, Basingstoke, UK, pp. 78 - 93,
    • Thurbon EC, 2013, 'Australia', in Lember V; Kattel R; Kalvert T (ed.), Public Procurement, Innovation and Policy: International Perspectives, edn. 1, Springer, Berlin Heidelberg, pp. 35 - 63,
    • Thurbon EC, 2012, 'From Developmentalism to Neoliberalism and Back Again? Governing the Market in Australia from the 1980s to the Present', in Chang K-S; Fine B; Weiss L (ed.), Developmental Politics in Transition : the neoliberal era and beyond, edn. 1, Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke, pp. 274 - 298
    • Thurbon EC, 2012, 'Ideas and Industrial Governance: Has the Influence of Neoliberalism been Overstated?', in Neoliberalism: Beyond the Free Market, edn. 1, Edward Elgar Publishing Limited, Cheltnam, pp. 180 - 203,
    • Thurbon E, 2007, 'The developmental logic of financial liberalization in Taiwan', in Institutions and Market Economies: The Political Economy of Growth and Development, pp. 87 - 111,

    Journal articles

    • Rethel L;Thurbon E, 2019, 'Introduction: Finance, Development and the State in East Asia', New Political Economy,
    • Thurbon E, 2019, 'The Future of Financial Activism in Taiwan? The Utility of a Mindset-centred Analysis of Developmental States and Their Evolution', New Political Economy,
    • Weiss L;Thurbon E, 2018, 'Power paradox: how the extension of US infrastructural power abroad diminishes state capacity at home', Review of International Political Economy, vol. 25, pp. 779 - 810,
    • Thurbon E, 2016, 'Trade agreements and the myth of policy constraint in Australia', Australian Journal of Political Science, vol. 51, pp. 636 - 651,
    • Thurbon E, 2015, '10 years after the Australia-US free trade agreement: where to for Australia’s trade policy?', Australian Journal of International Affairs, vol. 69, pp. 463 - 467,
    • Thurbon E, 2015, 'The abandonment of procurement-linked strategic activism in Australia: standing still with room to move', Australian Journal of International Affairs, vol. 69, pp. 577 - 594,
    • Kim SY;Thurbon E, 2015, 'Developmental Environmentalism: Explaining South Korea’s Ambitious Pursuit of Green Growth', Politics and Society, vol. 43, pp. 213 - 240,
    • Thurbon EC, 2015, 'Ten Years Since the Australia-US Free Trade Agreement: Where to for Australia's Trade Policy?', Australian Journal of International Affairs
    • Thurbon E, 2014, 'L'État développeur: Défense du concept', Critique Internationale, vol. 63, pp. 59 - 75,
    • Weiss L;Thurbon E, 2006, 'The business of buying American: Public procurement as trade strategy in the USA', Review of International Political Economy, vol. 13, pp. 701 - 724,
    • Thurbon E;Weiss L, 2006, 'Investing in openness: The evolution of FDI strategy in South Korea and Taiwan', New Political Economy, vol. 11, pp. 1 - 22,
    • Weiss L;Thurbon E;Mathews J, 2006, 'Free trade in mad cows: How to kill a beef industry', Australian Journal of International Affairs, vol. 60, pp. 376 - 399,
    • Thurbon EC;Weiss L, 2006, 'From Player to Pawn: Howard`s Trade Legacy', Australian Journal of Public Affairs, vol. February, pp. Web - Web
    • Weiss L;Thurbon E, 2004, '"Where there's a will there's a way": Governing the market in times of uncertainty', Issues and Studies, vol. 40, pp. 61 - 72
    • Thurbon E, 2003, 'Ideational inconsistency and institutional incapacity: Why financial liberalisation in South Korea went horribly wrong', New Political Economy, vol. 8, pp. 341 - 361,
    • Thurbon E, 2001, 'Two paths to financial liberalization: South Korea and Taiwan', Pacific Review, vol. 14, pp. 241 - 267,

    Conference Papers

    • Thurbon EC, 2011, 'Same But Different: Reviving the Developmental State Model by Revisiting its Ideational Foundations', in APSA Conference 2011 Full Papers (online), Australian Political Studies Association, Canberra, presented at Australian Political Studies Association Conference 2011: Crisis, Uncertainty and Democracy, Canberra, 26 - 28 September 2011,

Teaching and Supervision

Teaching areas
International Political Economy, with a special focus on the IPE of trade, finance and industrial development and change


2018-2022: Academy of Korean Studies LaboratoryGrant(with CIs Profs Keun Lee, Djun-kil Kim, Jang-sup Shin, Jaeyong Song, and Chan-yuan Wong). "Following via a Detour to Converge or Forging a New Path to Diverge? A Comparative Study of Korea’s Development Trajectory".AKS-2018-LAB-1250001

2019-2021: Australia Research Council Discovery Project (with CIs Dr Sung-Young Kim, Prof John Mathews, and A/Prof Hao Tan). "East Asia's Clean Energy Shift: Drivers, Enablers, Obstacles, Outcomes". DP190103669

2019-2022: UNSW Scientia Fellowship

Engagement and Professional contributions

Recent Media Contribitions

2017: 'Future of the TPP' Sunday Roundtable with Tom Switzer, Radio National 27 January

2017: ‘There’s No Point in Australia’s Push to Ratify the TPPThe Conversation. 25 January

2016: ‘Why Trump is Right, and Wrong, about Killing off the TPPThe Conversation. 23 November. (With Linda Weiss)

2016: ‘The Growing Partisan Divide on TradeAustralian Outlook. 19 December

2015: ‘Five things you need to know about the TPPThe Conversation (with Tim Harcourt, Jeffrey Wilson and Belinda Townsend) 6 October.

2015: ‘How Australia’s Trade Policy Approach is Harming Australian FirmsDemocracyRenewal, 8 December.

2015: 'The Abandonment of Procurement-Linked Strategic Activism in AustraliaAustralianOutlook (AIIA) 4 December.

Recent Senate Submissions/ Testimony

2017: Joint Senate Select Committee Inquiry into the Commonwealth Government Procurement Framework. Reported on June 28 2017.

2016:Senate Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade References Committee Inquiry into the Proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership. September 2016.

2016: Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Review of the Australia-US FTA Implementation. May 2016.

Affiliation and Memberships

  • Australian Political Studies Association (APSA)
  • International Studies Association (ISA)
  • Society for the Advancement of Socio-Economics (SASE)
  • Korea Research Institute (KRI)
  • Jubilee Australia (Member, Research Advisory Board)
  • Reinvent Australia (Member, Management Committee)

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