Department of Government Theses and Dissertations

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    Territorial taxation system : a story of inequality and political process capture
    (2023-05-01) Barros, Pedro Moraya; Jensen, Nathan M. (Nathan Michael), 1975-
    Under territorial individual taxation domestic source income is taxable, while foreign source income is not. Therefore, it incentivizes residents to remove capital out of the country, e.g. investing in stocks, bonds, and real estate offshore. Moreover, individuals migrating to territorial taxation jurisdictions may even be better off leaving their capital abroad. Hence, why do several governments choose to only tax their residents on domestic source income and not on international income? In other words, which countries are more likely to embrace territorial taxation? I argue that countries with a high level of inequality are more likely to embrace territorial taxation. That happens because, in unequal societies, elites (i.e. the ones with enough capital to invest abroad) have more de facto power to influence policies that please them. To test my arguments, I use a cross-sectional analysis with 228 countries and territories, along with a case study from Bolivia.
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    The Socratic analysis of nobility and beauty : politics, wisdom, and the divine in Plato's Greater Hippias
    (2022-12-02) O'Toole, Daniel Frederick; Pangle, Thomas L.; Pangle, Lorraine S; Stauffer, Devin; Blitz, Mark
    This dissertation provides a comprehensive interpretation of the Greater Hippias, Plato’s dialogue on nobility and beauty. It helps shed light on a crucial dimension of Plato’s political philosophy, for according to him, nobility and beauty are among the most important yet contentious aspects of moral, political, and religious life. In the course of interpreting the Greater Hippias, the dissertation seeks to clarify how Plato understands the nature and character of nobility and beauty and the various ways in which they hold meaning and relevance for our individual and political lives. This requires tracing his analysis of what all is implied in the conventional conception of nobility and beauty and the natural basis of our attachment to it. The dissertation concludes, first of all, that the Greater Hippias shows that the kind of nobility that seems most impressive to us serves the common good and is rooted in what conventional and lawful political orders honor and praise most highly. Second, it shows how nobility and beauty promise to satisfy the soul’s longing for the transcendent and the divine. Third, it shows that nobility must ultimately be understood in terms of the good, and especially in terms of the beneficial and the pleasant, but that men resist understanding nobility in those terms. Hence the dissertation uncovers the core of the tension between the conventional understanding of nobility and a rational understanding of nobility—or between what seems noblest to us and what’s actually good for us.
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    The gatekeeping role of the Office of the Solicitor General at the certiorari stage
    (2022-05-02) Bird, Christine Catherine; Perry, H. W.; Theriault, Sean M., 1972-; Jones, Bryan; Evans, Rhonda
    The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) is a key repeat player in the U.S. Supreme Court decision-making process. It maintains a storied co-dependent relationship with the Supreme Court and is the most successful litigant at the merits stage in appellate litigation. Yet, we understand very little about the OSG’s role in the policy making process at the agenda-setting stage. In this dissertation, I seek to add to the discussion of agenda setting and organizational influence in judicial policymaking. Instead of considering the appointed head of the Office, the Solicitor General, I dig deeper into how the full bureaucratic entity behaves in the context of a broader policy process. I present evidence that the OSG’s most consequential role is not at the merits stage, but as an organizational entity talented and empowered to gatekeep access to the Supreme Court. I employ a novel dataset I collected and coded of more than 2,500 certiorari-stage cases involving the Office of the Solicitor General between the 1999 and 2019 terms. I leverage a secondary text as data dataset from cert-stage briefs filed by the Office of the Solicitor General and its opponents. I show the Office of the Solicitor General is extraordinarily successful at keeping cases off of the Supreme Court’s docket. I show evidence of the OSG’s concerted efforts to convince the Supreme Court to deny access (and quickly) to its substantive docket when the request for review disrupts the government’s legal and policy goals. I show the Office of the Solicitor General, due to its high case load and its privileged position with the Supreme Court, develops a process to strategically prioritizes its effort in cert-cases with highly sophisticated opponents and/or in issue areas central to its institutional agenda. Ultimately, I demonstrate the Office of the Solicitor General manages its role as an institutional political entrepreneur by prioritizing a defensive legal strategy and works to gatekeep access to the Supreme Court’s agenda.
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    Shooting blanks and missing the mark : policy responses to the gun violence epidemic
    (2022-12-02) Cassella, Christopher Paul; Epp, Derek A.; Jones, Bryan D.
    Mass shootings and gun violence have become an all too common phenomenon in modern American life. But despite a rise in shootings across the United States, there have not been significant changes to gun policy. Across disciplines, scholars have studied gun violence, but their traditional theories fall short of explaining this significant policy deficit. In this paper, I offer a new theory to study gun policy that centers on state capacity and institutional constraint. Using data on gun violence, gun policy movements, and public laws, I propose that the best predictors of gun policy movement through state legislatures are previous policy decisions and fixed state political factors, not the severity of the gun violence problem. As an exploratory study, I perform a preliminary analysis on gun policy and gun violence data between 2017 and 2019. I demonstrate that gun violence incidents alone cannot explain state movements on gun policies and that other variables must be accounted for in these models to understand what drives policy change. This study has important implications for the study of gun policy, representation, and the policy process.
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    Origins and consequences of corruption scandals : evidence from Mexico
    (2023-01-02) Petersen Cortes, German; Gerring, John, 1962-; Brinks, Daniel M.; Wlezien, Christopher; Ward, Peter M.
    This dissertation looks at the political origins and consequences of corruption scandals. On the origins side, the dissertation argues that first turnovers after long periods of dominant-party rule open opportunities for corruption scandals to take place. In turn, scandals contribute to an increase in perceptions of corruption, which explains at least part of the increase in these perceptions during early democratization periods. On the consequences side, the work examines the impacts of corruption scandals on interpersonal trust and electoral outcomes. The dissertation uses quantitative methods and relies on subnational time-series cross-sectional data from Mexico, specifically the 32 Mexican states from the first presidential turnover in 2000 until 2018. The dissertation consists of three papers. The first paper explores the impact of early democratization on corruption scandals and of corruption scandals on perceptions of corruption. The work finds that first turnovers, typical of early democratization stages, increase the number of corruption scandals, which in turn increase perceptions of corruption. Therefore, while the literature has generally assumed that perceptions of corruption increase in periods of early democratization due to an increase in actual acts of corruption, this work transcends assumptions and presents evidence that one mechanism –though not necessarily the only mechanism– connecting early democratization to perceptions of corruption is the incidence of corruption scandals. The second paper examines the consequences of corruption scandals on interpersonal trust. This work finds that corruption scandals create an effect that harms interpersonal trust. More specifically, corruption scandals bring about a decrease in trust in coworkers/classmates and friends. In contrast, trust in neighbors and family/relatives is not harmed by corruption scandals. Interestingly, under certain circumstances trust in family/relatives is even strengthened by scandals, possibly due to a substitution effect after the loss of trust in other relationships. The last paper focuses on electoral accountability after corruption scandals. The literature’s consensus is that scandals damage the incumbent party’s electoral performance, but only mildly. However, the literature has not asked about the damage that corruption scandals might do to the established parties’ electoral performance. This paper argues that corruption scandals, besides harming the incumbent party’s electoral performance, damage the established parties. Additionally, contrary to the literature’s argument that corruption scandals depress turnout, the paper finds that, under certain conditions, corruption scandals might motivate turnout.
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    The lure of leadership : lessons from Plutarch on the nature of an exceptional statesman
    (2022-05-02) Davis, Emily Anne; Pangle, Lorraine Smith; Stauffer, Devin
    In this paper, I show that Julius Caesar’s character, appeal, and motivations (as seen in Plutarch’s Life) were much more complex than most scholars believe. It is true that Plutarch’s Caesar felt an irresistible ambition for power and that he often drew on his strategic brilliance to serve his own political interests. Yet power for power’s sake was far from enough for him. Plutarch demonstrates, in fact, that Caesar’s drive to become an absolute ruler stemmed not only from his longings for power and glory, but also from his desire to distribute benefits and justice to his subjects and to deserve the honor and gratitude they gave him in return. Caesar’s overweening confidence in his ability to establish new, just orders was hugely attractive to the Roman people, who felt unfairly oppressed by the existing laws. Though Plutarch indicates that Caesar’s self-assessment was unsupported by serious examination of questions regarding justice, he also suggests that Caesar’s (and his people’s) deep concern for justice played a key role in his rise to the throne.
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    Socrates’s and the Eleatic stranger’s defenses of philosophy
    (2022-05-05) Myers, Ian G.; Pangle, Thomas L.; Pangle, Lorraine Smith
    Only in his Statesman does Plato present a philosopher of the caliber of the Eleatic Stranger giving a non-Socratic teaching on politics and political philosophy with the mature Socrates in the audience. The Stranger and Socrates, as I aim to show here, share a basic agreement about the purpose of political inquiry: inquiry into politics and human nature is according to both thinkers necessary for a defense of philosophy as a whole. In the following, I argue that the Stranger, like Socrates, turned to political theorizing to respond to the anti-rationalist challenge posed by the claims of the great poet-teachers of Greece, Homer and Hesiod, whose poems, by asserting either that irrational, omnipotent divinity exists or that the universe came into being without a cause, deny the existence of necessary causes. I argue as well that although they understand this challenge in a similar way, Socrates and the Stranger focus on different puzzles of political and ethical life, and that those different focuses lead to different approaches to defending rationalism. Socrates, on my reading, thinks that a critical analysis of our opinions about virtue and happiness is the decisive ingredient in a response to the theological challenge, while the stranger thinks that a critical analysis of law as such is the decisive ingredient in such a response.
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    Pleasure and political philosophy in Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics
    (2022-05-05) Jiang, Jonathan; Stauffer, Devin, 1970-; Pangle, Lorraine Smith
    This thesis analyzes Aristotle’s treatment of pleasure in book seven of the Nicomachean Ethics. The thesis argues that Aristotle’s identification of contemplative activity with a certain kind of pleasure fulfills a key part of his project to articulate a vision of happiness that is unified and harmonious and, accordingly, that Aristotle’s reflections on pleasure help illuminate his claim that the philosopher is the architect of the end of human life. The thesis suggests further that Aristotle implicitly qualifies this vision of happiness by indicating the internal tensions of the philosophic life.
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    Partisanship as a motivation for incivility against women in politics
    (2021-12-03) White, Benjamin Tracy; Albertson, Bethany
    Politicians who use social media often experience incivility from the public. Anecdotal evidence and recent scholarship find that female politicians are particularly likely to experience incivility online. Although women are no longer a rarity in politics, traditional gender norms still portray politics as a masculine domain. In breaking these norms, women in politics experience incivility, online abuse, and other forms of psychological or symbolic violence. However, we do not yet understand how partisanship shapes female politicians’ experiences with incivility on social media. Partisanship is a strong social identity, encouraging affective polarization and outright hostility against those from the opposing party. Recent work suggests that extreme politicians are more likely to experience incivility, but I expect that the effect of partisan extremity on incivility is stronger for women. Women in politics experience a variety of sanctions as they break traditional gender norms, but gender scholars argue that these sanctions are more likely when individuals can justify their behavior. In an age of partisan hostility, partisanship may allow individuals to justify incivility against female politicians across the aisle. I examine approximately 660,000 tweets sent to members of the U.S. House of Representatives in October 2019, and in October 2020 during the height of the presidential election campaign. Contrary to expectations, extreme female members are no more likely to experience incivility compared to moderate female members, and partisanship generally does not increase the risk of experiencing incivility. These null results persist even when considering data from two different points in time (during the 2020 campaign and a year prior), and despite operationalizing incivility in three different ways. Null results notwithstanding, this study offers an informative first look at how partisanship affects member’s experiences with incivility
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    Visions of Allah : the competing political theologies of Ayman al-Zawahiri and Ayatollah Muhammad Hussain Fadlallah
    (2021-12-02) Prowant, Max; Barany, Zoltan D.
    What follows is an attempt to better understand not just the political ideologies of prominent jihadist groups, but the wide-ranging theologies which inform political and militant action. My central argument and contribution to the study of jihadist organizations is that how they conceive of God is a major factor in explaining their strategies, tactics, and end goals. To demonstrate this, I compare the theological-political thought of two radically different jihadist ideologues: Ayman al-Zawahiri (1951-present) and Ayatollah Muhammad Hussain Fadlallah (1935-2010). This Master’s Thesis illuminates how these men understand the nature or phenomenon of God and his relationship with man. Flowing from their approach to God, it shows how their theologies inform two central aspects of the political ideologies: the proper function and place for jihad and the jihadist, and the role and function of the state. The thesis concludes with some telling real-world examples of how their theological-political ideologies are played out in the operations of al-Qaeda and Hezbollah
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    Plato’s Timaeus and the limits of natural science
    (2021-12-02) MacFarlane, Ian J.; Stauffer, Devin, 1970-
    The Timaeus is perhaps the most unusual of Plato’s dialogues. In this paper, I attempt to interpret Timaeus’s strange speech, which makes up most of the dialogue. I argue that Timaeus has grasped the grave challenge posed to philosophic reason by men like Hesiod who claim that mysterious gods are the first causes of the world, and therefore one cannot say that there are any true necessities governing this world. If this is true, then philosophy, as the study of nature, which depends on the existence of necessity, would be impossible. Timaeus articulates two serious attempts to meet this challenge by demonstrating the stability and rational comprehensibility of the world from solid first principles: one according to which mind is the cause of all things; another according to which everything comes to be through mindless necessity. But he ultimately suggests that neither of these attempts have been successful, thereby demonstrating the limits of natural science’s ability to meet the religious challenge. Timaeus’s speech also has a rhetorical purpose related to this failure: insofar as he finds himself unable adequately to meet the religious challenge, and yet is still attracted to and finds worthwhile the pursuit of philosophy, he thinks a rhetorical account of the cosmos is necessary to shore up faith in reason for elite and educated young men who find themselves inclined to natural science. The more rhetorical aspects of Timaeus’s speech, and above all his account of the triangles, serve this purpose
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    Machine learning algorithms in political research
    (2022-07-27) Freedman, Guy, Ph. D.; Theriault, Sean M., 1972-; Jones, Bryan D; Craig, Alison W; Wilkerson, John D
    In recent years, political science has witnessed an explosion of data. Political scientists have begun turning to machine learning methods to provide reliable and scalable measurements of such large datasets. Building on the emerging literature on the use of machine learning in political science, I contribute four major lessons to the students and scholars who wish to make the most of these methods. These lessons include the advantage of treating machine learning as a process, combining text as data with standard data practices, the strength of pooling together supervised and unsupervised learning and the importance of understanding a model’s strengths and limits. Through two rigorous empirical chapters, I trace the process of machine learning in two case studies, with actual outcomes for two widely-used datasets in the discipline. The first centers on a model for identifying agency-creation in historical data of congressional hearings. In the second case study, I tackle a multi-classification problem of predicting one of 20 major policy topics (and over 220 minor topics) in congressional bills. I conclude with a look to the future of machine learning in the discipline as we shift from a first wave of the literature that served as an introduction to machine learning, to a second wave of utilizing machine learning in actual research on political data and the challenges that these data present.
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    The pursuit of moral order : the religious foundation of Rousseau's thought
    (2022-04-20) O'Connor, James Joel; Viroli, Maurizio; Williams, David L; Bonevac, Daniel A; Tulis, Jeffrey K; Luskin, Robert C
    Rousseau's religious system is essential to understanding his educational, moral, and political systems. Order is the central hub connecting them. Divine order—the order of nature—creates a standard to judge human life. Consequently, Rousseau's entire philosophy is dedicated to reestablishing the natural order created by God and abandoned by humanity. Of course, it is impossible to entirely return to the natural order. Instead, the natural order is a model for all of Rousseau's projects. Nothing that Rousseau proposes is perfectly natural, even if he calls it such. Instead, he artificially produces new orders that approximate nature while never imitating it perfectly. His politics is dedicated to reestablishing the non-contradictory desires naturally present between people despite the new, artificial addition of society; his education is dedicated to making people who live as much as possible without contradictory desires despite being both natural and social creatures. God made us non-contradictory, but our artificial social creations have put us in contradiction with ourselves: the key to good living is to reconcile artifice with nature and to resolve the contradictions we have made for ourselves. Once Rousseau is placed in his appropriate Genevan religious context, the idea that religious order integrates his entire philosophy becomes plain.
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    Three essays on firms and international institutions
    (2022-05-09) Thrall, Calvin; Jensen, Nathan M. (Nathan Michael), 1975-; Wellhausen, Rachel L; Chapman, Terrence L; Peinhardt, Clint
    A long-underappreciated fact in the field of international political economy is that, while states are the actors who create international political institutions, it is often nonstate actors—particularly firms—who are most directly affected by them. As firms' operations have become increasingly global over the course of the last five decades, international institutions such as economic treaties have become increasingly important for firms' bottom lines. Theorizing from the corporate perspective, this project details three strategies by which firms influence and engage with international institutions: first, by lobbying for the creation of favorable institutions; second, by shifting their legal forms in order to gain access to new institutions; and third, by cooperating with international institutions to govern their own operations (when it is profitable to do so). In the first essay, I study the role of multinational firms in the development of international institutions. Over the course of the 20th century, states have developed large networks of bilateral or small-group economic treaties in several issue areas. These treaties, which are important tools of foreign economic policy, redistribute the gains and losses of globalization. Why do states sign treaties with some partners and not others? Motivated by the observation that the same pairs of states tend to sign multiple treaties within a short time period, I develop a theory of treaty regime coevolution that centers corporate demand for treaties. Firms expand into new foreign markets in search of profit, paying fixed costs to do so. However, once the initial cost is paid, these firms become the primary beneficiaries of any future treaty between home and host states. Incumbent firms therefore have incentive to lobby home state legislators and diplomats in favor of signing treaties with their host states, across several issue areas. Strong private sector demand can lead to the formation of multiple types of treaties between pairs of states, creating firm-driven interdependence across treaty networks. Using quantitative and qualitative data—including novel data from the USSR, declassified diplomatic cables, and elite interviews—I find support for my theory. The results have implications for the decline of multilateralism in foreign policy, and suggest new avenues for studying the effects of treaties. In the second essay, I study a case in which overlap between international institutions generated opportunites for corporate arbitrage. Multinational firms frequently route their foreign investments through intermediate shell companies. Increasingly, firms engage in proxy arbitration, using these shell companies to access other states' bilateral investment treaties and file investor-state disputes against their host states. I argue that proxy arbitration is actually a spillover effect of corporate tax avoidance. Firms invest abroad through intermediate shell companies to access the bilateral tax treaty network, reducing their withholding taxes. Because the tax and investment treaty networks overlap extensively, these "tax-planning" firms often gain investment treaty coverage as a side benefit, enabling them to file proxy arbitration in the event of a dispute. Using novel, fine-grained data on the ownership structures of multinational firms, I find evidence in support of the spillover effects theory. The results suggest that understanding the true effects of global governance institutions requires attention to how firms strategically change their legal forms to access or avoid them. Finally, in the third essay, I ask whether or not firms can cooperate with international institutions in a way that produces normatively positive outcomes. Multinational firms operate in multiple national jurisdictions, making them difficult for any one government to regulate. For this reason much of the regulation of multinational firms is done by the firms themselves, increasingly in conjunction with international organizations by way of public-private governance initiatives. Prior research has claimed that such initiatives are too weak to meaningfully change firms' behavior. Can public-private governance initiatives help firms self-regulate, even if they lack strong monitoring or enforcement mechanisms? I take two steps towards answering this question. First, I introduce a new measure of firms' performance on ESG (environmental, social, and governance) issues: the extent to which the firms issue public responses to claims of misconduct from civil society actors. Second, I argue that public-private governance initiatives allow firms to benefit from the legitimacy of their public partners, lowering the reputational cost of transparent response. Employing novel data on firm responses to human rights allegations from the Business and Human Rights Resource Center, I find that membership in the largest and most prominent initiative, the United Nations Global Compact, significantly increases firms' propensity to respond transparently to stakeholder allegations. These results suggest a limited but important role for public-private initiatives in global governance.
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    The role of money in local American politics
    (2022-03-15) Humphrey, Colby Scott; Shaw, Daron R., 1966-; Roberts, Brian; Wlezien, Chris; Bowman, Ann
    Issues related to money in American politics have long received widespread national attention, particularly among those fearing the outsized role of political spending on elections. Campaign finance regulations have evolved as a patchwork of legislation and court precedent speaking to these concerns, with substantial variation in scope and enforcement across the states. Regrettably, research is lacking in municipal contests, where the risk of undue influence through campaign contributions and spending could be of more pressing concern given four inter-related factors: 1. Low voter knowledge about candidates, 2. the substantial (and increasing) amounts of money spent on elections, 3. the proximity local elected officials have to their constituents and donors, and 4. the varying, often lacking, degree of transparency in the campaign finance regimes in place. This project examines the role of money in municipal elections, as well as the impact of campaign finance regulations and reforms on election dynamics. I test the proposition that less restrictive campaign finance regulations will lead to more overall candidate spending, resulting in increased turnout. These spending and turnout theories will be juxtaposed with Citizens United-fueled fears of independent expenditures crowding out candidate spending. I present a modified hydraulics theory of campaign finance for local elections and argue that as the price of making independent expenditures is reduced relative to campaign contributions, then money should be observed moving to this more efficient option. While previous work emphasizes the futility of campaign finance restraints, I point to the opposite in the case of independent expenditures in that Citizens United expanded how money could be spent in elections, causing a change in the relative price of political participation through campaign spending via independent expenditures. I will explore the proposition of whether the critics of the Citizens United decision are correct in that spending is shifting towards independent expenditures, fueled by corporate and union spending, and away from candidates in local elections. Last, if Citizens United has damaged American democracy at the local level, one pathway through which this will be found is in lower turnout levels brought about by increases in independent expenditures.
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    Polarization : conceptualization and measurement
    (2020-12-08) Sinno, Barea M.; Elkins, Zachary, 1970-
    How do societies polarize? The literature on polarization in the political science subfield of American politics is rich. However, polarization has been measured at different levels of the society instead of the societal level at large. The reasons for this are mainly methodological. Capitalizing on the latest developments in the field of computational discourse analysis, this paper offers a framework for the operationalization and measurement of polarization over time using high-dimensional text data. By measuring polarization in the media, we showcase our framework. We create a (1) corpus of newspaper articles around the federal budget topic, (2) we develop a three-dimensional measure of budget ideology: social, fiscal and foreign, and (3) we establish 550 human annotated gold labels for modelling purposes. To measure polarization in the media over time, we (1) predict the ideology of a news source and (2) calculate issue constraint among dimensions. Our framework is extendable to various societal levels and the comparative study of polarization across countries. The corpus, labels, and code used are made available on GitHub. The ultimate aim is to help researchers offer a comparative understanding of the dynamics of polarization across time and countries
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    The shield of legitimacy : strategic decoupling of sanction compliance programs in global firms
    (2022-05-07) Lu, Zhizhen; Jensen, Nathan M. (Nathan Michael), 1975-
    The compliance of multinational corporations (MNCs) is critical to effective economic sanctions in a globalized era. While the literature on economic statecraft increasingly emphasizes the importance of firm-level theories, there is insufficient attention to business management strategies and consequent firm-level behaviors. Bringing strategic management and compliance theories, I enrich the understanding of business compliance with economic sanctions. Regulators are increasingly reliant on business self-regulation through corporate compliance programs, including the enforcement of economic sanctions. However, there is an empirical puzzle where many MNCs violating sanctions have compliance programs in place. I argue that conventional theories of compliance insufficiently address the strategic dynamic between firms and the states. Bringing the institutional and strategic perspectives, I advance a novel theory of costly signaling where firms use the sanction compliance programs to communicate their dedication to self-regulation, reducing investigation efforts from the regulator. As the regulator is constrained by investigative resources and information on the actual business operations, it takes the presence of compliance programs as a signal for deciding the most efficient enforcement level. I build a formal model to test the logic of this theory and find support for these two hypothesized mechanisms. The budget constraint that confronts the regulator is critical to a separating equilibrium where the low-profit firm can distinguish itself from the high-profit one. The regulator’s uncertainty over on-the-ground business practices enables firms to separate formal compliance structures and informal practices. While focusing on economic sanctions, this report has broader implications for the governance and regulation of global firms.
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    The city agenda : local governance and national influence in the policy agenda, 1900-2020
    (2022-09-12) Shannon, Brooke Nicole; Jones, Bryan D.; Wlezien, Chris; Philpot, Tasha S; Bjerre Mortensen, Peter
    All politics may be local, but local government policy is often inspired by the national level. The nationalization of politics; school board and city council meetings erupting with anger about national elections, public health policies, or campaign issues such as critical race theory being taught in schools, these examples reflect growing cohesion of politics and messaging from national to local politics. National politics affects local government in less bombastic ways as well, though. Movements for equitable representation, cleaning up dangerous downtowns, and even for civil rights often begin at the national level with an eye to urban politics, and affect local governmental policy agendas, as city councils respond to national politics. Local government has a pragmatic reputation. New York mayor Fiorello LaGuardia reportedly embraced it, saying, “There’s no Republican or Democrat way to pick up the garbage”. Municipal governance is much more than service provision and garbage collection, although both are consequential in any city. I look directly to policies of local government for how external political movement and the myriad problems facing local policymakers influences impact agenda setting. I use city council meeting minutes from Austin, Texas from 1900 to 2020 to examine issues comprising the local policy agenda. I find the local agenda is influenced by local conditions and national attention alike, in unexpected policy areas.
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    Authorizing revolutionary constitutional change : constituent power, legitimacy, and the revolutionary constitutional amendment
    (2022-06-22) Cozza, Joseph Francesco; Jacobsohn, Gary J., 1946-; Elkins, Zachary, 1970-; Brinks, Daniel M; Hirschl, Ran; Somer-Topcu, Zeynep; Tierney, Stephen
    Constitutions are critical links between a foundational past and an aspirational future. This dual role opens the door to significant disharmonies both within the text and between the document and the people. There are times, however, when efforts to reconcile growing disharmonies in a constitutional system are no longer sufficient, requiring a new approach that will transform the identity of the constitutional order. The periodic need for transformative change has led scholars to analyze constitutional revolutions and their role in constitutional systems. This dissertation examines how the amendment power can be used to legitimately produce a constitutional revolution, altering the core identity of a constitutional system. First, I argue that revolutionary amendments can be classified along two dimensions: institutional and socio-normative. While institutional amendments restructure the delegation of sovereignty in the state, socio-normative amendments shift the constitution’s core values and redefine the demos. Drawing on civic republican theory, I then argue that the process of enacting revolutionary amendments must approximate the primary constituent power by fostering citizen representation and deliberation in both the drafting and ratification of the amendment, mirroring mechanisms that would be used to draft a new constitution. In this way, the amendment can make a claim to a new popular sovereignty independent of the existing document. This theory, which I call the Approximation Thesis, can help determine when a revolutionary amendment will be seen as a legitimate constitutional change by the citizens of the state. Chapter 2 lays out the theoretical framework by introducing the concept of the revolutionary amendment and offering a normative assessment of the path to legitimation, connecting the concept to the literature on constituent power and popular sovereignty. The subsequent chapters provide empirical support for this theory. In doing so, I conduct in-depth case studies of revolutionary constitutional change in Ireland (Chapter 3) and the United Kingdom (Chapter 4), focusing specifically on the 2018 repeal of Ireland’s Eighth Amendment and the 2016-2021 Brexit process. In Chapter 5, I conduct experimental analysis in the United States to test the impact of participatory amendment procedures on the legitimacy of constitutional change, both ordinary and revolutionary.
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    Constitutional technocracy : the theoretical foundations
    (2022-07-29) Moncrieff, Abigail R.; Perry, H. W.; Gregg, Benjamin; Levinson, Sanford; Sager, Lawrence
    This dissertation argues that John Stuart and Harriet Taylor Mill were the first constitutional technocrats. “Constitutional technocracy” is obviously not a new idea given that I found it in the Mills’ 163-year-old work. But “constitutional technocracy” is a new name for an unusual set of ideas: a set of ideas that many prior scholars have labeled “muddleheaded” when reading the Mills’ oeuvre. The source of the “muddleheaded” critique is the apparent tension between technocracy and liberalism. Historically, “technocracy” is a system of anti-liberal political institutions: the complete consolidation of power in scientific experts who can discover and implement objectively correct laws. Liberalism, by contrast, argues that the imperative of personal freedom is morally prior to and fundamentally incommensurate with any benefits that might be obtained from scientifically correct laws. “Liberal technocracy” therefore seems like an oxymoron. The Mills have appeared muddleheaded because they were liberal technocrats. They embraced technocracy as an aspirational standard of legitimacy while simultaneously arguing—in one of the most enduring pieces of political writing ever produced—for the importance of individual freedom. Understood properly, however, the Mills’ version of technocracy, which I call “constitutional technocracy”, is the farthest possible thing from muddleheaded. It is, in fact, the only version of technocracy that is fully and coherently technocratic. The core idea of constitutional technocracy is that technocratic governance, in order to function as intended, depends on liberal political institutions. The technocratic authors who advocate centralization of power are evincing an unscientific overconfidence in human governors’ capacity to discover objectively correct laws. In reality, the discovery of objectively correct laws—particularly given the ineradicable conditions of dynamism and uncertainty in human societies—requires perpetual experimentation with new approaches. That kind of experimentation can be accomplished most cheaply through diffusion of political power: also known as “liberty”. This dissertation merely sketches the theoretical foundations of constitutional technocracy. I will develop the theory much more fully in later work. In the process of sketching the basics here, however, I demonstrate that constitutional technocracy’s birthplace is not this dissertation; it is the works of John Stuart and Harriet Taylor Mill.