Deference and Hierarchy in International Regime Complexes                     (Forthcoming, International Organization)

How do states resolve jurisdictional conflicts among international institutions? In many issue areas, global governance is increasingly fragmented among multiple inter- national organizations (IOs). Existing work argues this fragmentation can undermine cooperation as different institutions adopt conflicting rules. However, this perspective overlooks the potential for inter-institutional coordination. This paper develops a theory of institutional deference: the acceptance of another IO’s exercise of authority. By accepting rules crafted in another IO, member states can mitigate rule conflict and facilitate a division of labor within the regime complex. I use an original dataset of over 2,000 IO policy documents to describe patterns of deference in the counterterror- ism, intellectual property, and election monitoring regime complexes. Empirical tests support two theoretical claims. First, institutional deference is indeed associated with a division of labor among institutions: IOs that defer to each other are more likely to focus their rule-making efforts on separate sub-issues. Second, deference is a strategic act that is shaped both by efficiency concerns and power politics. Statistical tests con- firm that deference is used to efficiently pool resources among disparate organizations, and that IOs with weaker member states tend to defer to organizations with more powerful members. The paper is available here.



Working Papers


Angling for Influence: Institutional Proliferation in Development Banking

Why do states construct new international organizations (IOs) in issue areas that are already densely institutionalized? Functional theories point to the cooperative benefits that states gain from international institutions. Yet a growing literature on “international regime complexity” highlights the pathologies that arise when multiple, overlapping institutions collectively govern a particular issue. I argue regime complexes arise from a contest for bargaining power among states. The rules that confer influence in multilateral institutions often fail to adapt to the evolving distribution of state power. States engage in strategic institutional proliferation when their influence in existing institutions is constrained by outdated rules. I test this argument in the growing regime complex for development lending, an issue area with a single dominant institution (the World Bank) and a growing collection of alternative development banks. To overcome the endogenous assignment of influence in the World Bank, I leverage a natural experiment associated with the allocation of states’ formal vote shares. A last minute change in the vote share formula, recorded in archival records, provides exogenous variation in states influence in the Bank. Results show that states are significantly more likely to engage in IO proliferation when their influence in the World Bank is misaligned with their underlying material power.  The paper is available here.


The Forces of Attraction: How Security Interests Shape Membership in Economic Institutions (with Christina Davis)

Why do states join international institutions? Existing theories emphasize that direct gains from cooperation influence the choice of partners for cooperation. In contrast, we argue that geopoliti- cal alignment shapes entry into non-security institutions through information and linkage channels. High levels of trust among security partners mitigates their concern about possible cheating so that cooperation is easier. At the same time, participation in institutions facilitates resource transfers. By joining institutions together, states build patronage networks to reward and bribe states in their security coalition. We test these dynamics by analyzing membership patterns from 1949 to 2014 in 89 multilateral economic organizations. These organizations represent a hard test for the role of geopolitical alignment given their economic mandate. We demonstrate that geopolitics has a large and significant effect on the probability of state membership in economic organizations. In addition, we compare functionalist and geopolitical theories of institutional membership using a finite mixture model. We find that about half of the membership decisions in our sample of economic organizations are best explained by the geopolitical model. By tracing the role of geopolitical alignment in IGO membership politics, this paper identifies a new mechanism connecting the security and economic behavior of states.  The paper is available here.


Requiem for the Democratic Peace (with Joanne Gowa)

A large majority of scholars in the field of international relations agree that a democratic peace exists. Here, we reexamine the evidence. We focus on the Cold-War era for two reasons: 1) the empirical literature relies upon a distribution of observations that is highly skewed toward the bipolar world; and 2) existing analyses fail to control for the impact of neutral states on dispute rates during the East-West conflict. Adding a covariate that controls for them leads the ramparts of the democratic peace to crumble: the coefficient on joint democracy becomes substantively small and statistically insignificant.



Works in Progress

The Effect of Institutional Proliferation on Cooperative Outcomes

Exit Options and State Influence in Treaty Negotiations: the Case of the UN Arms Trade Treaty

Avoiding Reputation Costs in Multilateral Institutions (with Julia Morse)

A Dynamic, Hierarchical Mixed Membership Stochastic Blockmodel for Network Data (with Kosuke Imai, Adeline Lo, and Santiago Olivella)

The Use of Model Laws by International Organizations (with Mary Kroeger and Saurabh Pant)