Michael D. McGinnis

Adjunct Instructor
Professor and Chair, Political Science
Senior Research Fellow, Ostrom Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis

No photo available.
(812) 855-5098
Room Number:
Woodburn Hall 366


  • Ph.D. University of Minnesota, 1985
  • B.S. Ohio State University, 1980


Michael D. McGinnis is professor in the Department of Political Science at Indiana University, Bloomington. He is a senior research fellow (and former director) of The Vincent and Elinor Ostrom Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis, an interdisciplinary research and teaching center focused on the study of institutions, development policy, resource management, and governance. The Workshop was initially established in 1973 by Vincent and Elinor Ostrom, and its continuing importance was dramatically recognized when Elinor Ostrom was awarded the 2009 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences. McGinnis served as director or co-director of the Ostrom Workshop for a total of five years since 2003, after serving as associate director for six years before that.

His current research focuses on the ways in which healthcare policy in the U.S. can be improved through increased collaboration among stakeholders at the community or regional level. He was principal investigator of the Managing the Health Commons research project, which applied principles of commons governance identified by Elinor Ostrom to the study of regional health and healthcare systems. He is a core faculty member of the ReThink Health Alliance, which was initially established and funded by The Fannie E. Rippel Foundation.

McGinnis received a B.S. in Mathematics from The Ohio State University in 1980 and a Ph.D. in Political Science from The University of Minnesota in 1985, and he has worked at IU ever since.  In his early research, McGinnis used game theory to model arms races, alliances, wars, peace negotiations, and other interactions between domestic and international politics. He has published several articles in political science and international relations journals, as well as chapters in edited volumes. He is co-author, with John T. Williams, of Compound Dilemmas: Democracy, Collective Action, and Superpower Rivalry (University of Michigan Press, 2001) and editor of three volumes of readings on governance issues written by scholars associated with the Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis. He was co-editor of International Studies Quarterly (1994-98).

McGinnis teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in public policy and institutional analysis (U.S. Healthcare Policy, Theories of Public Policy; Religion, Politics, and Public Policy; Implementation Challenges of Governance Reform), and research methods. Earlier in his career he taught several courses in world politics (Arms Control; Coping with War; Democracy and National Security; Nations, States, and Boundaries).

Along with his other teaching and research activities, McGinnis has studied the unique contributions that faith-based organizations make to the design and implementation of public policy related to humanitarian relief, development assistance, peace-building, and reconciliation in troubled regions of the world, as well as standard public services in education, health care, and welfare assistance in societies less directly challenged by the ravages of war. He is especially interested in understanding the response of international governmental and nongovernmental organizations to local and regional conflicts. His research demonstrates that well-intentioned interventions of the constituent members of the global conflict policy network (national governments, UN agencies, and humanitarian, development, and conflict resolution NGOs) have routinely been diverted or manipulated by strategically adept leaders whose interests are served by continued conflict.

Selected Works