Download my Research Statement here for a description of my research agenda:
"Rebel Territorial Control and Civilian Collective Action in Civil Wars," (Job Market Paper)
Under what conditions do rebel organizations control territory during civil war? How do civilians influence the distribution of territorial control? This article introduces a civilian agency theory, emphasizing the importance of community collective action capacity (CAC) defined by underlying social network structure conducive to cooperation to pursue common interests, to complement existing explanations of territorial control in civil war. It argues communities with greater CAC increase belligerents’ incentives to control territory by communicating and mobilizing resources for collaboration more efficiently. However, CAC also increases community bargaining power to demand costly investments in governance and protection, partially offsetting these expected gains. CAC increases rebel control in areas of state neglect, but the effect fades with community access to state protection and services, which enhances community power to leverage CAC to demand prohibitively costly rebel governance. The article tests the theory using novel village-level data from the communist insurgency in the Philippines. Military intelligence reports measure communist insurgent territorial control and social network analysis of a household-level census measures community CAC. Multilevel logit regression results are consistent with the theory. Qualitative analysis of key-informant interviews from 75 randomly selected villages in conflict-affected Eastern Mindanao illustrates the causal mechanisms and tests against plausible alternative explanations.
"Don't Bite the Hand that Feeds: Rebel Funding Sources and the Use of Terrorism," (with V. Page Fortna and Nicholas Lotito), Revise & Resubmit, International Studies Quarterly.
Why do some rebel groups resort to terrorism tactics, while others refrain from doing so? This paper argues that rebel organizations pay attention to the legitimacy costs associated with terrorism and that how rebel organizations finance their rebellion creates variation in their vulnerability to these legitimacy costs. Organizations that rely primarily on civilian support, and to a lesser extent on foreign support, are most constrained in their use of terrorism. Rebels who finance their fight with lootable resources such as gems or drugs are least vulnerable to legitimacy costs and so are more likely to resort to terrorism and to employ more of it. The paper develops legitimacy cost theory and tests it using new data on Terrorism in Armed Conflict from 1970 to 2007. We find robust support for the hypothesis that groups who finance their fight with natural resources are significantly more likely to employ terrorism (though not necessarily to conduct more deadly attacks) relative to those who rely on local civilian support. We find that groups with external sources of financing, such as foreign state support, may be more likely to engage in terrorism than those who rely on local civilians, but not significantly so.
Other Works in Progress
"Civil Wars and the Market for Sponsorship"
Under what conditions do states support rebel groups in a rival’s territory? What are the consequences of external support for the conduct of civil war and the prospects for peaceful settlement? This article argues that a state's decision whether to support organized rebellion in an adversary's territory is shaped not only by constraints on alternative coercive bargaining strategies (including the direct use of military force), but also on the risk that other actors in the international system may sponsor the rebel group instead. If multiple, non-aligned states are simultaneously in conflict with a common adversary, there exists a competitive market for the adversary's political concessions, and by extension for a rebel group's services as an in-country partner to gain bargaining leverage over others. The market for sponsorship theory hypothesizes that multilateral conflict/regional security competition increases the likelihood of state sponsorship, the likelihood of multiparty civil war, and the duration of conflict. The theory is tested using UCDP Armed Conflict data, San-Akca's (2016) Dangerous Dyads data on external support, and Goertz, et al. (2016) peace and conflict data to measure rivalry and alignment among states.
"Regime Types and Terrorism Revisited: The Institutional Determinants of Terrorism," (with Richard K. Morgan)
Empirical evidence suggests that, relative to consolidated democracies and entrenched autocracies, anocratic regimes are more vulnerable to terrorism. Theories explaining this relationship posit that particular institutional features have countervailing effects on terrorism or that these effects change when certain institutional components exist simultaneously. Similarly, theories incorporating the non-state actor’s strategic decision-making posit that the target state’s institutional characteristics can influence a non-state actor’s incentives for, and constraints on, using terrorism, suggesting this influence may differ according to the non-state actor’s political objective. While the literature proposes these and other mechanisms, until recently, insufficient data were available to test them directly. Indeed, prior research relies on aggregate measures of regime type and simple counts of terrorism incidents within a state. These data, however, restrict the researcher’s ability to evaluate which institutional characteristics matter and how they might interact with the non-state actor’s political objective. We address these shortcomings using two new sources of data: the Terrorism in Armed Conflict (TAC) and Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) datasets. TAC provides a flexible system to assign incidents in the Global Terrorism Database to non-state actors included in the Uppsala Conflict Data Program datasets, which allows us to account for non-state actors’ political objectives and other conflict conditions. V-Dem disaggregates regime institutions into their distinct subcomponents, allowing us to assess which institutional components matter and under what conditions. Together, the TAC and V-Dem datasets give us the necessary level of disaggregation needed to assess directly the viability of the proposed mechanisms found throughout the literature.
"Terrorism in Armed Conflict (TAC): Introducing a New Data Set on Terrorism in Civil Conflicts, 1970-2012," (with V. Page Fortna and Nicholas Lotito).
The Terrorism in Armed Conflict (TAC) data collection project, developed with Page Fortna and Nicholas Lotito also at Columbia University, links violent incidents in the Global Terrorism Database (GTD) to civil war combatants included in the Uppsala Conflict Data Program (UCDP) datasets, filling a crucial gap in existing empirical studies addressing the causes and consequences of terrorism. Existing research has relied upon data that includes only groups that have committed acts of terrorism without including similar groups that may use terrorism but do not. This limits the set of testable research questions and confidence in inferences regarding the strategic use of terrorism. We consider civil war belligerents a useful sample of potential users of terrorism and investigate research questions related to strategies of conflict and the use of terrorism in civil wars. Upcoming papers using TAC data contribute to the literature on the causes and consequences of Terrorism in civil wars, rebel group lethality and conflict intensity, and strategic choice between guerrilla and civilian targeting tactics.
"Concede with Caution: How Concessions Affect Rebel Group Cohesion," (with Nora Keller).
Under what conditions can negotiation foster peace? How does conflict bargaining affect the organizational strength of states and opposition groups? This paper argues that providing political concessions to internally divided self-determination movements may have the unintended consequence of causing organizational fracture, thereby increasing conflict intensity in the short-term and prolonging conflict in the long-term. While leading factions within the opposition movement seek to negotiate peace to institutionalize their power, subordinate factions are threatened by settlements that make permanent their subordinate status. We test the theory on a sample of 146 self-determination movements in 77 countries compiled by the CIDCM and augmented by Cunningham (2014). New Ethnic Power Relations data identifying language and religious cleavages (Bormann, et. al. 2017) are used to measure the within-movement cleavage structure along which splintering may occur.