Working papers

Special interest groups often cooperate with intermediaries to influence legislation. I study a model in which these groups combine public cheap talk and private evidence disclosure to strategically selected legislators. The results demonstrate that if interest groups cannot directly persuade a majority, they form connections with sufficiently moderate allies who lobby on their behalf. Groups may need to form connections with multiple allies if legislators strongly disagree about the salience of different aspects of a proposal. Interest group competition can force them to form connections with more moderate legislators and guarantees fully informed collective decisions. The results further imply for empirical lobbying research that (i.) information and connections to legislators are strategic complements, (ii.) the value of individual connections are not independent, and (iii.) it is not straightforward to identify allies and enemies.

  • Designing Access in International Organizations

I examine how international organizations design interest group access and trade off policy control and informational lobbying incentives. In particular, I analyze a formal model of lobbying and bargaining to show how and when deeper forms of access may incentivize interest groups to acquire and transmit more information in return for influence over international cooperation. A potential impediment to deeper access is disagreement among heterogeneous member states over the value of interest group influence. Perhaps surprisingly, deeper access may even discourage information collection. More broadly, this paper aims to address a mostly empirical literature that finds significant heterogeneity in the design of interest group access among and within international organizations.

  • Efficient Learning through International Delegation (with Nicolas Riquelme)

Sharing information with international relevance is often a salient aspect of institutionalized cooperation. But why would countries benefit more from communication through an international organization? We study a game theoretic model of delegation and information aggregation with heterogeneously informed countries and costly signaling. We show when delegation leads to welfare gains in communication and how design choices affect these joint welfare gains. The main trade-off imposed by the delegation of authority on costly signaling is that a country incurs fewer costs to communicate if the international organization is more moderate. But the stakes of the decision are higher, which leads to stronger signaling incentives. This trade-off is solved differently by countries with heterogeneous levels of exposure to international decisions, where larger countries have more to lose than small ones.

  • The Emergence of Political Order (with Scott Abramson and Brenton Kenkel)

In this paper we characterize the conditions under which agents in anarchy can construct hierarchical institutions that guarantee peace. To accomplish this we borrow insights from the theory of mechanism design to understand how interactions in anarchy, where violence is always admitted, can yield self-enforcing institutions that both completely restrict violence and induce actors to exit a peaceful state of nature. In doing so, we describe the allocation of economic and military endowments that result from such an institutional order, characterizing both monarchical solutions — where a single actor invests in military abilities — and republican solutions — where all actors invest in military abilities. What is more, we show that a welfare maximizing institution, one wherein no actor invests in military abilities, can only emerge under implausible conditions of complete destruction following conflict. Finally, we evaluate the impact of actors’ ability to flee the imposition of order on the construction of peace preserving institutions and show that the ability to “exit” is a necessary condition to preserve anarchy.

Works in progress

  • Disclosure through Intermediaries in Committees
  • Communication and Delay in Sovereign Debt Crises (with Randall Stone)