In addition to my dissertation, I have a number of additional ongoing projects as part of my research on international conflict and security. Below is a list of current working papers and a brief abstract describing each project.
“Sowing the Seeds: The Strategic Advantages of Indoctrination.” With Scott Tyson. Under review.
Abstract: Extremist groups are gaining prominence in domestic and international affairs, but what role does ideological extremism play in the political strategies of governments who interact with opposition groups driven by ideological concerns? Does engendering extremist beliefs among a population of citizens generate concrete advantages, or is indoctrination a political liability? We develop a novel theory of indoctrination, focusing on the strategic link between the level of extremist indoctrination among a population and the government’s aggressiveness in countering extremist groups. In our theory, indoctrination engenders a self-motivation on the part of an individual to participate in opposition activities, implying that indoctrinated citizens will oppose the government without the logistical support of extremist leaders. Consequently, government security efforts targeting extremist leaders, and their organizational apparatus, become less valuable as more citizens have been indoctrinated. We also study the endogenous decision by extremist leaders to indoctrinate individuals and study how two substantive factors, economic conditions and the susceptibility of citizens to indoctrination, affect how much effort extremist leaders devote toward indoctrinating people, and the subsequent level of anti-government activity. We show that improving economic conditions reduces anti-government activity, while making individuals less susceptible to indoctrination efforts has an ambiguous impact on extremist activities.
“Eager Hearts and Indoctrinated Minds.” With Jessica Sun and Scott Tyson.
Abstract: We study competing investments in human capital by governments and insurgent groups. The government balances the benefit of a higher-skilled population with the risk that educated citizens will defect and fight the regime. Insurgents have the advantage of indoctrinating part of the population, ensuring support but at the cost of reduced education. Our framework highlights a novel effect of strategic indoctrination, which strengthens insurgent capacity. Specifically, we find indoctrination increases the amount of anti-regime activity, but not necessarily the insurgency’s effectiveness. Furthermore, we identify conditions under which the government underinvests in education to balance the risk between educating citizens—making them more highly skilled for economic participation—versus inadvertently strengthening future insurgent effectiveness. We develop a theory linking investment in education under the threat of insurgency to intentional under-provision of education, with implications for the effectiveness of insurgent and counterinsurgent activities. We then consider the effect of foreign investment in the education sector and its downstream effects on both domestic expenditures and conflict outcomes. We examine the possibility that foreign aid may substitute for government provision of education in times of internal conflict, leaving the regime without the institutional capacity to develop human capital after the cessation of hostilities.
“Measuring Audience Costs in Militarized Deterrent Disputes.” With Nadiya Kostyuk and James Morrow.
Abstract: When and why do leaders make concessions in international disputes? Recent years have seen a proliferation of empirical research on the effect of audience costs in crisis bargaining. This research has generated important new insights on how to detect and measure audience costs. While most of the existing works measure audience costs according to a single crisis bargaining model, this project estimates audience costs by considering the differences between deterrent and compellent threats. To test the implications from each of these types of threats, we apply a structural statistical model to codings of instances of coercive diplomacy in the 1918-2015 International Crisis Behavior dataset. Our findings provide evidence that when deterrent threats are made, audience costs affect states’ decisions about whether to challenge the threat and escalate the crisis, or let the crisis lapse over time.