Spring 2017

Dondena Political Economy Seminar Series

Spring 2017

12.45 pm via Rontgen 1

(Room numbers noted. Titles and abstracts will be posted as they become available.)


(Download the seminar series poster here)

28 February 12:45pm Room 3B3SR01
Thomas Koening
University of Mannheim

Ministerial Autonomy, Parliamentary Scrutiny, and the Implementation of International Law

How does the inclusion of national parliaments affect compliance with international law?According to the literature on the implementation of international law, the involvement of national parliaments promotes compliance by increasing the audience costs of violating governments. In multiparty governments, however, parliamentary institutions may serve as a monitoring device which constrain ministerial autonomy by scrutinising and amending governmental proposals. This study introduces a theoretical framework of multiparty policymaking, in which ministers decide about proposing a policy for the implementation of international law that can be challenged in the national parliament but finally overruled by ministerial discretion. Because challenging and overruling are costly, the minister may refrain from proposing a policy at the risk of paying a sanctioning cost. We outline and test under which conditions ministers are more likely to gatekeep, how sanctioning costs affect ministerial behavior, and how the salience of national politics determines enforcement conflicts. Using data on the implementation history of EU-27 Member States, which were obliged to transpose 2,908 EU directives in the period from 1979 to 2012, our findings suggest that the inclusion of national parliaments decreases the likelihood for compliance, in particular when strong parliamentary institutions and high ideological competition increase the reputation costs of a challenged minister. This effect is lowered when the public generally supports international law and the likelihood for an enforcement conflict is high.



7 March 12:45 Room 3B3SR01
Scott Tyson
University of Michigan

Deterrence and Counterdeterrence in the Fight Against Global Terror

The deterrence of transnational terrorist activities is a key challenge in modern foreign policy. This challenge has been rendered even more daunting by the emergence of several new non-state actors, whose ultimate goals and internal ideological cohesion are difficult to assess. We develop a theory of the interaction between a politician in a target country and a non-state group that might suffer from internal ideological disagreement between different factions. We show that factions within non-state groups will exploit the politician's uncertainty regarding the group's goals and internal cohesion so as to counter-deter the politician from using military force. While a prudent approach toward the use of military force might result in a failure to address some threats, a more aggressive approach can lead to such a large increase in the overall level of terrorism that the target country would better off committing to never use military force. 



28 March, Room 3B3SR01
Micheal Ting
Columbia University

We develop a model of the social and political foundations of governance quality, or the effectiveness of government programs.  In the model, groups of citizens are differentiated by levels of demand for a public service, and line up to receive the service when the need arises.  Elected officials representing these groups anticipate these needs and invest in organizational capacity to service citizen demand while prioritizing their constituents.  The model is built on a tractable foundation that is drawn from well known queueing models of organizational service provision.  A central finding is that bureaucratic quality ameliorates the effects of political polarization on government programs.  However, polarization can actually improve program quality when the social demand for services is low.  The model also provides a ``life cycle" account of government programs, whereby some programs become stable and politically robust while others are transitory.  Finally the framework can be used to predict when citizens are likely to be satisfied with government, and when privatization would produce better social outcomes.


4 April 12:45pm Room 3B3SR01
Marina Calculli
The George Washington University

The counterinsurgent insurgent: explaining Hezbollah's intervention in Syria



11 April 12:45pm Room 3B3sr01
James D. Fearon
Stanford University

Armed Conflict Bargaining



22 May 12:45pm Room AS02 (floor -2 Roentgen Building)

Thomas Palfrey
California Institute of Technology

(Joint with BELSS and Applied)

Candidate entry and political polarization: An experimental study.


23 May 12:45pm Room 3B3SR01
Giacomo De Luca
University of York

Ethnic Favoritism: An Axiom of Politics?


30 May 5:00pm Room 3B3SR01
Slantchev Branislav 
University of California San Diego

The Authoritarian Wager: Political Action and the Sudden Collapse of Repression

Authoritarian rulers tend to prevent political action but sometimes allow it even if it leads to social conflict. The collapse of preventive repression is especially puzzling when rulers have reliable security forces. We develop a game-theoretic model that explores the incentives of authoritarians to repress or permit political contestation. We show that rulers with the capacity to fully repress political action create despotic regimes, but rulers with more moderate, although still formidable, capacity might opt to allow contestation instead. The status quo bias that favors regime supporters weakens their incentive to defend it. When this emboldens dissidents sufficiently to act, the ruler might abandon repression in order to expose supporters to the risk of losing their privileged position, thereby motivating them to defend the regime. Paradoxically, it is the stronger regimes that are more susceptible to an abrupt collapse of repression when their rulers take this authoritarian wager.

Last updated 21 July 2017 - 09:43:50