Owen's research focuses on the domestic politics and economics of globalization. Overarching themes in Owen's writing emphasize how workers and multinational firms influence policy outcomes governing trade and foreign direct investment. Her main research focuses on how the rise of fragmented production — the ability of firms to split up the production of a good or service across countries — means that globalization today affects workers and firms in new ways. Past research examined how workers' welfare is closely liked to occupation and the impact on the politics of globalization, as well as how multinational firms make investment decisions and how multinational activity affects domestic politics.
Analyzes roll call votes in the House of Representatives to demonstrate that politicians are less likely to support free trade when their constituents are more vulnerable to offshoring.
Examines the local political impact of globalization, specifically whether mayors that attract new foreign direct investment (FDI) perform better in local elections. Finds that new FDI leads to better electoral outcomes for incumbent parties in local elections in Brazil.
Examines the domestic and international political economy forces. Helps us understand the referendum vote on Brexit and subsequent Brexit politics, before raising new avenues for research.
Argues that organized labor may oppose the entry of multinational firms because of its effects on employment and workers' bargaining power. Demonstrates that countries with stronger unions will have more restrictions on inward foreign direct investment.
Argues that occupation characteristics are a key determinant of how trade affects workers, and thus individuals' trade preferences due to the expansion of global production, including the movement of jobs offshore. Demonstrates that occupational characteristics are important determinants of trade preferences, offering additional understanding of the backlash against globalization.
Argues that workers in different types of firms (import-competing, exporting, or multinational) have different preferences over the size of government. Demonstrates that imports and exports lead to shifts in public opinion, and that these shifts in opinion influence actual social spending in the United States from 1956 to 2011.