Persuasive Lobbying with Allied Legislators (R&R at American Journal of Political Science)
– Why do interest groups lobby their allies if they already agree? One proposed answer is that allies are intermediaries who help persuade unconvinced legislators. To further study this mechanism, we develop a formal model of persuasive lobbying in legislatures where interest groups provide verifiable information to a strategically chosen coalition of legislators. These groups face a trade-off: Lobbying aligned legislators generates greater influence as they are more willing to endorse the group’s preferred policy, but those who are too aligned cannot persuade a majority of their peers. The model illustrates that connections to legislators are especially valuable when groups cannot be persuasive by themselves and when they face little competition. Finally, the results highlight how groups publicly and privately provide information, and illuminate when and why interest groups target allies or enemies.
The Construction of Political Order (under review, with Scott Abramson and Brenton Kenkel)
– We develop a model to understand the kinds of peaceful political order that can emerge from anarchy. We characterize existence of three types of peaceful order: 1) peaceful states of nature} where no agent invests in coercive force; 2) monopolies of violence where a single agent invests in the production of force; and 3) balances of power where all agents invest in coercion. We show that the welfare-maximizing peaceful state of nature is sustainable only if conflict would destroy all of society’s wealth. Additionally, we find that it is more costly to sustain political order through a monopoly of force than to have multiple agents maintain coercive abilities. Lastly, we show that the political order most preferred by any individual agent entails an unnecessarily high investment in coercion, larger than is strictly required to maintain peace.
Access and Incentives in International Organizations
– The participation of outside stakeholders in international organizations is valued for informed policy making. Paradoxically, organizations that are most in need of expertise are not transparent. This suggests that open institutions do not necessarily induce information provision by outsiders. I develop a formal model of policy making with multiple member states that highlights the strategic incentives of outsiders to acquire and provide information. I compare their incentives when the international organization is transparent and secretive. The model shows that international organizations can make more informed policies by concealing their own expertise because outsiders provide more information. Additionally, the results highlight that institutional design drives conflicts of interest among member states with different ideologies and information. Broadly, this paper provides empirical implications for a literature that finds substantial heterogeneity in interest group access among international organizations.
International Decision Rights and Efficient Signaling (with Nicolas Riquelme)
– The exchange of information is one of the proposed rationales for delegation to international organizations (IOs). But why would states be better off exchanging information in the presence of an IO? To study the signaling benefits from delegation, we develop and analyze a model in which multiple principals use costly signals to transmit information in the presence and absence of an initially uninformed agent. A key result is that, regardless of misalignment among states, IOs may be helpful for informational efficiency as long as inter-state externalities are sufficiently high. There are two countervailing forces for informational efficiency when states delegate. They incur (i) lower costs if a more aligned IO makes policy on behalf of another state, but (ii) higher costs if they delegate their own policy to a misaligned IO. Finally, we provide implications for the efficient selection of international bureaucrats and their level of discretion.
Works in progress
Communication and Delay in Sovereign Debt Crises (with Randall Stone)