Research

Overview

My research interests are in International and Comparative Political Economy, as well as Democratization and Development. My book manuscript, tentatively titled "Varieties of Donor Governance and the Pursuit of Aid Effectiveness" investigates the domestic political determinants of aid delivery decisions across OECD donor governments and time. Specifically, I examine variation in how donor governments deliver aid: whether they engage with recipient governments abroad or whether they bypass local authorities and implement projects through non-governmental or multilateral organizations, public private foundations, or private contractors. Empirically, I rely on a mixed methods approach that leverages existing and originally collected data. For instance, I draw on new project-level data on aid delivery channels as well as originally collected survey data from interviews with senior donor officials from the United States, UK, France, Japan, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, and the Netherlands. I also create a new cross-country measure for foreign aid delivery preferences of political parties on the basis of political party manifestos through methods of text analysis. 

Publications and Under Review:

Research on Foreign Aid Decision-Making

I have published or have forthcoming stand-alone articles about the determinants of foreign aid delivery. In my 2016 article in International Organization, "Donor Political Economies and the Pursuit of Aid Effectiveness", I explain how variation in domestic structures in donor countries explains differences foreign aid delivery strategies abroad.

In a previous paper in International Studies Quarterly, "Bypass or Engage: Explaining Donor Delivery Tactics in Foreign Aid Allocation" (replication data), I introduce a novel measure of foreign aid delivery -recipient government bypass - to the foreign aid literature; and explain the effects of bad governance abroad on foreign aid decision-making. A 2017 paper at the Review of International Organizations (with Amanda Murdie), Human Rights Shaming Through INGOs and Foreign Aid Delivery (replication data) evaluates the extent to which INGO shaming influences donor decisions to deliver aid abroad. We find that donor governments, on average, respond to INGO shaming of repressive regimes by bypassing these governments in aid provision. Instead, donors choose to channel aid through non-state development actors. 

The importance of understanding variation in donor delivery tactics also contributes to our understanding of the effectiveness of democracy promotion. In a 2015 paper at The Journal of Politics with Joseph Wright, "Foreign Aid Tactics and Democratic Change in Africa" (replication data), we show that donors vary in the kinds of democracy promotion strategies that they employ but that in Africa the predominant approach has been to strengthen the regime through governance and state-capacity investment - at the expense of bottom-up democracy promotion through civil society actors and political opposition parties. In a current working paper "Foreign Aid and Judicial Independence," we explore the effects of foreign aid on judicial reform in developing countries from 1990-2012.

My first publication in World Development, "The Politics of Public Health Aid: Why Corrupt Governments Have Incentives to Implement Aid Effectively, kicked off my research agenda on foreign aid. While I now focus on donor selection, I show that recipient governments act strategically when weighing the implementation priorities associated with different aid sectors. 

 

Research on Aid Beneficiaries Attitudes in Developing Countries

My second big research project on foreign aid investigates how foreign aid beneficiaries respond to foreign aid interventions. In particular, I am interested in how knowledge about U.S. sponsorship of foreign aid projects affects beneficiaries attitudes and behavior toward the United States; how it affects beneficiaries' evaluation of  the effectiveness of aid projects; and how foreign sponsorship influences citizen attitudes and behavior toward their own government. Together with Matthew Winters, I employ experimental methods as well as qualitative research to investigate these questions. In a 2016 piece in the Journal of Experimental Political Science, "Foreign Aid and Government Legitimacy" (replication data)  explores the effects of branding on peoples' attitudes toward their own government in India, using a convenience sample of Amazon Mechanical Turk respondents from India. In a forthcoming article in the Journal of Politics "Foreign Aid, Foreign Policy, and Government Legitimacy: Experimental Evidence from Bangladesh" (replication data), we further study branding effects using an information experiment in Bangladesh. We find that USAID branding slighty improves citizen perceptions of the United States government as well as of their own local authorities. 

 

Research on Comparative Development

Aside from my research on foreign aid I am interested in comparative development. In "State or Regime? The Impact of Institutions on Welfare Outcomes" (replication data), forthcoming at the European Journal of Development Research, Michael Bernhard and I investigate the role of different types of institutions, rule of law and bureaucratic quality, in brining about different dimensions of human development, including food security, infant mortality, and basic education.

For my other working papers please consult my CV and email for copies.