Most all of my current research is proprietary and sensitive, so I can’t share it here. That said, below are some public-facing publications and working papers that I worked on during my time as a formal academic.


What Do Local Government Education Managers Do to Boost Learning Outcomes?, The World Bank Economic Review, 2022

Recent public sector reforms have shifted responsibility for public service delivery to local governments, yet little is known about how their management practices or behavior shape performance. This study reports on a comprehensive management survey of district education bureaucrats and their staff that was conducted in every district in Tanzania, and employs flexible machine-learning techniques to identify important management practices associated with learning outcomes. It finds that management practices explain 10 percent of variation in a district’s exam performance. The three management practices most predictive of performance are (a) the frequency of school visits, (b) school and teacher incentives administered by the district manager, and (c) performance review of staff. Although the model is not causal, these findings suggest the importance of incentives and active monitoring to motivate district staff, schools, and teachers, that include frequent monitoring of schools.

Integrating Conflict Event Data, Journal of Conflict Resolution, 2019

The growing multitude of sophisticated event-level data collection enables novel analyses of conflict. Even when multiple event data sets are available, researchers tend to rely on only one. We instead advocate integrating information from multiple event data sets. The advantages include facilitating analysis of relationships between different types of conflict, providing more comprehensive empirical measurement, and evaluating the relative coverage and quality of data sets. Existing integration efforts have been performed manually, with significant limitations. Therefore, we introduce Matching Event Data by Location, Time and Type (MELTT) — an automated, transparent, reproducible methodology for integrating event data sets. For the cases of Nigeria 2011, South Sudan 2015, and Libya 2014, we show that using MELTT to integrate data from four leading conflict event data sets (Uppsala Conflict Data Project–Georeferenced Event Data, Armed Conflict Location and Event Data, Social Conflict Analysis Database, and Global Terrorism Database) provides a more complete picture of conflict. We also apply multiple systems estimation to show that each of these data sets has substantial missingness in coverage.

Where a Founder Is from Affects How They Structure Their Company, Harvard Business Review, 2019

Cultural Imprinting, Institutions, and the Organization of New Firms, Strategic Science, 2018

Do firm founders from nations with more predictable and transparent institutions allocate more autonomy to their employees? A cultural imprinting view suggests that institutions inculcate beliefs that operate beyond the environment in which those beliefs originate. We leverage data from a multiplayer online role-playing game, EVE Online, a setting where individuals can establish and run their own corporations. EVE players come from around the world, but all face the same institutional environment within the game. This setting allows us to disentangle, for the first time, cultural norms from the myriad other local factors that will influence organizational design choices across nations. Our main finding is that founders residing in nations with more predictable and transparent real world institutions delegate more authority within the virtual firms they create.

The Geography of Organized Armed Violence Around the World, Peace and Conflict 2017, Routledge 2017

A Voice in the Process: A Cross-National Look at Ethnic Inclusion and Economic Growth in the World, Development, 2014

Does greater ethnic inclusion into the executive have a positive effect on a country’s economic development? We posit that by allowing for greater diversity in a state’s decision-making process, ethnic populations find their preferences represented and thus are more likely to support enacted policies; at the same time the quality of the policy increases as a greater variety of perspectives are introduced. Utilizing the new AMAR (All-Minorities at Risk) data to capture ethnic diversity, this article offers a preliminary description, suggesting that higher levels of inclusion positively correlate with indicators of economic growth.

Working Papers

An Integrated Picture of Conflict (w/ Karsten Donnay, David Cunningham, and David Backer)

Growth in event datasets is fostering research about patterns, dynamics, causes, and consequences of conflict. Studies typically rely on a single dataset. Instead, we advocate integrating multiple datasets to improve measurement and analysis. We have generated an integrated dataset covering all violent events for Africa from 1997-2018 from three leading datasets (ACLED, UCDP-GED, and GTD). Our approach involves both pre-processing the data so that they are comparable and using an automated approach to produce an integrated dataset that is transparent and reproducible. Through examining these integrated data, we find substantial overlap across these three datasets. At the same time, each dataset includes events that conceptually should be captured in the other datasets, but are not. Thus, we view these integrated data as offering a better measure of violent conflict. A statistical analysis shows that geographic features frequently used in analyses of the location of conflict events — including the distance from the capital or a border, terrain, economic development, and population–have different effects on the incidence and frequency of conflict events when using integrated data as compared to individual datasets. These illustrations highlight the potential for integration to advance conflict research by yielding a more complete and accurate picture of activity, which has repercussions for both descriptive and theoretical findings. Integration is likely to be increasingly worthwhile as event datasets proliferate, expand in coverage, and exhibit wider applications.

The Dark Side of Diversity: Membership Diversity and Tactical Innovation in Violent Non-state Organizations

Why do some violent non-state actors (NSA) regularly innovate while others do so rarely? Recent studies suggest variation in affiliation, bureaucratization, support, and competition yield different innovative capabilities. While emphasizing constraints, these studies tend to overlook the importance of internal drivers that make innovation more or less likely. I develop a theory of membership diversity in an NSA as an internal driver of innovation. Using panel data on 187 NSAs (1970 to 2018), I exploit variation in novel exposures to socially-relevant ethnic populations as a diversity treatment in an intent-to-treat design to estimate the relationship between membership composition and tactical innovation. I demonstrate the validity of the empirical strategy using a directed acyclic graph. The analysis finds that the diversity treatment increases both the likelihood and rate of tactical innovation. By treating membership composition as an information problem, the findings underscore the importance of knowing who is in an NSA when evaluating organizational capabilities.

Gender Norms and Violent Behavior in a Virtual World (w/ David Waguespack and Johanna Birnir)

How does gender influence violent behavior? Existing research generally focuses on biological and contextual factors that drive variation in violence, often overlooking how internalized gender norms can influence violent actions. Isolating the effect of norms from biology is challenging because sex and gender are typically conflated. Moreover, it is difficult to observe and know if individuals behave the same publicly as opposed to privately. To get around these issues, we examine a novel multi-player computer game setting where players can operate characters of varying genders, thus holding biology constant. The data tracks more than 488,000 unique players from over 150 countries for their first 30 days of gameplay. By exploiting variation in game mechanics, we find evidence that behavioral differences are attributable to internalized norms as opposed to biology or external sanctioning. We then leverage a natural experiment in the data to examine if these internalized norms can be altered. We find that both male and female players utilize their female characters more violently when exposed to examples of females in military roles. The project is the first to distinguish the effects of gender norms from the effects of biology or social sanctioning—confirming the importance of gender norms while clarifying the differences these norms exert on men and women’s behavior.

Shifting foreign policies and punctuated diplomatic behavior (w/ Michael Joseph)

We develop a method to identify when states change their foreign policies based on an observable indicator: patterns of elite diplomatic meetings. We argue that elites choose diplomatic partners to advance a specific foreign policy agenda. When that agenda changes so do the incentives to choose diplomatic partners. To locate these breaks we apply non-parametric structural break tests to time series models that pre- dict a state’s diplomatic behavior. We argue that where these tests identify breaks in diplomatic behavior, a state has changed its foreign policy. We validate our theory using expert foreign policy analysis and quantitative cases. We first collect new daily diplomatic events data for Russia, Iran, the USA and Australia. We then com- pare structural breaks in these time series to expert assessments about foreign policy change. Consistent with expert reports, we locate structural breaks in Iran’s diplomatic behavior when Rouhani first comes to power, then in the months after sanctions are lifted; and in Russia’s diplomatic behavior 6 months before the Ukraine crisis, and then again when Russia extends its military into Syria. No break occurs in Australia’s or America’s diplomatic behavior as expected. We contribute to the empirical literature on conflict by providing new diplomatic data and a method to measure foreign pol- icy change, and to theories of diplomacy by linking aggregated patterns of diplomatic behavior to foreign policy choices—not underlying intentions.