Government & Politics Theses and Dissertations

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    Words that Matter: Three Essays on Multilateral Opposition to War
    (2022) Kim, Hyunki; Huth, Paul; Government and Politics; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    My dissertation titled “Words that Matter: Three Essays on Multilateral Opposition to War” advances our understanding of how the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) constrains state behavior through the use of verbal condemnation. The UNSC has an array of tools to manage violent conflicts, including condemnations, economic sanctions, and military actions. Existing scholarship largely discounts verbal condemnations as ineffective because they are not backed up by coercive actions that impose tangible costs. Empirical patterns and anecdotal illustrations, however, suggest contrary findings – that verbal condemnations can constrain state behavior under certain conditions. I address this gap by examining how variation across UNSC condemnations impacts the crisis-actors’ decision to escalate. I argue that variation in legal invocation and rhetorical severity sends important signals to the targeted state that can change the expected costs of war and, ultimately, prevent escalation. I further examine the determinants of rhetorical variation across UNSC condemnations through the lens of power-sharing and power-politics within the UN. I find that the permanent members influence the contents of the resolution, but the Council President shapes the UN’s agenda. My theoretical expectations and findings are validated by an empirical analysis of international crisis-actors from 1946 to 2017 with the original coding of legality and severity in the UNSC resolutions. This dissertation project improves our understanding of the UN’s role in conflict management, especially through condemnations. The findings suggest that rhetorical tools can be just as effective, and that the UN’s multilateral efforts can mitigate interstate conflicts in world politics by invoking international law and designing impactful messages.
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    Why Do Rebels Split? Examining The Causes Of Rebel Group Fragmentation
    (2022) Stern , Moran; Telhami, Shibley; Government and Politics; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    Why do rebel groups undergo fragmentation? While extensive research about the consequences of rebel fragmentation exists, research on the process of fragmentation remains relatively nascent. This dissertation collects three papers on the causes of rebel group fragmentation. In the first paper, I develop a junior cadres-based explanation of fragmentation. I argue that in a centralized rebel group, factions will emerge when leaders block junior cadres’ access to senior decision-making bodies. Junior cadres who want to influence the organization’s politics therefore face a choice between remaining within the rebel group and exiting it. Factionalizing is a way to redress grievances by aggrieved junior cadres who deem peaceful mechanisms for upward mobility ineffective. Using original datasets and personal interviews, I find strong evidence supporting my argument in the case of Palestinian Fatah. In the second paper, I argue that the solution to the question of fragmentation lies in rebel socialization—specifically, military training (MT). MT increases group cohesion by strengthening horizontal bonds among combatants; vertical bonds between combatants and commanders; and members’ institutional bonds to the organization’s overall mission and esprit de corps. Members become mutually dependent, thus making splintering more costly and fragmentation less likely. I test this argument on a global sample of 83 rebel groups active between 1989 and 2010. I find that rebel groups that have recently conducted MT are less likely to fragment by about 75 percent. In the third paper, I explore the effect of foreign fighters (FFs) on rebel fragmentation, examining a number of mechanisms derived from previous research. First, I explore how reduced group dependency on local fighters, preference divergence, strategic disagreements, and member segregation increase the likelihood of fragmentation for rebel groups that recruit FFs. Second, I posit that if the foreignness of FFs in relation to local insurgents makes fragmentation more likely, then rebel groups that recruit coethnic FFs will be less likely to experience fragmentation. I test these arguments on a global sample of 227 rebel groups active between 1989 and 2011. I find that rebel groups that recruit FFs are significantly more likely to fragment, even after accounting for the endogenous choice of rebel groups to recruit FFs. Against my expectations, I find that the recruitment of coethnic FFs does not diminish the probability of fragmentation. This finding raises questions about the value of ethnic homogeneity in the context of FFs in particular.
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    Follow the Leaders: Policy Presentation in the U.S. Congress
    (2022) Gaynor, SoRelle Wyckoff; Miler, Kristina; Government and Politics; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    This dissertation presents a theory of policy presentation in the U.S. Congress. I define policy presentation as the strategic development and distribution of partisan information to explain major legislative decisions by congressional leaders. Today, rank-and-file members, increasingly removed from the legislative process, rely on guidance from congressional leaders to discuss major legislative decisions with their constituents. As a result, preparing constituent communication materials has become an institutionalized responsibility for party and committee leaders, particularly for House Republicans. I also argue that policy presentation is an undocumented source of partisan polarization, as it incentivizes a partisan presentation of legislative activity—even in cases of bipartisanship and compromise. Using interviews with members of Congress and staff, computational text analysis, and social network analysis, I demonstrate how congressional leaders develop and distribute partisan messages for constituent use. I also document the conditions under which policy presentation occurs, and the members most likely to rely on party and committee leaders for assistance with constituent communication.
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    The Politics of Appointing Insiders and Outsiders: Appointing Provincial Government Agency Heads in China
    (2022) Wang, Xiaonan; Pearson, Margaret M.; Government and Politics; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    My dissertation studies the politics of appointing insiders and outsiders in China’s provincial government agencies. This study is motivated by the following puzzles: why are most agency heads appointed from outside of the agency instead of from the inside, and why has the trend of appointing outsiders increased over time? This question is relevant beyond China, has important implications for the quality of government, and is related to the broad problem of bureaucratic authority and political control. I find that three existing theories of bureaucratic appointments – the incentive-assignment conflict (the Peter Principle), patron-client relationships, and human capital or political experience – cannot fully explain the patterns of appointing provincial government agency heads in China. I develop and empirically test a theoretical framework that draws insights from the literature on delegation and bureaucratic embeddedness. Provincial leaders face an information-collusion trade-off in appointing agency heads: while agency heads with prior experience inside the agency help reduce performance uncertainty, they can also use their information advantages to engage in corruption, especially the type of corruption that involves collusion with colleagues and business clients. Whether to appoint insiders or outsiders is a function of balancing the risk of performance uncertainty and collusive corruption. I argue that how provincial leaders balance the trade-off depends on two factors. First, provincial leaders’ information on and connections with the candidates of appointees help mitigate the problems of adverse selection and moral hazard. When provincial leaders lack information and connections, they prioritize reducing corruption risks over performance uncertainty by appointing more agency heads without inside-agency experience. Second, according to the delegation model, increased monitoring capacity should alleviate provincial leaders’ concerns about corruption risks at the appointment stage. However, authoritarian monitoring has distinctive features, including top-down control, uncertainty, and intra-party propaganda, that could lead provincial leaders to take more preventive measures by appointing more agency heads without inside-agency experience. Finally, I emphasize that the theoretical framework is more applicable to appointments in important agencies with high corruption risks. I built an original dataset of China’s provincial government agency heads appointed from 1978 to 2020. To my best knowledge, this is the first systematic dataset on China’s sub-national government agency heads. I use provincial party secretaries’ in-province time before making appointment decisions as a proxy for their information on and connections with sub-provincial bureaucrats. I leverage Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign starting from late 2012 as an example that successfully strengthened the party’s monitoring capacity with the authoritarian approach. I categorize important agencies with high corruption risks based on both existing studies and a self-constructed index. I use the agencies that are not high-profile high-risk as the “control” group. The empirical results provide supportive evidence to the theory. First, I find that when provincial party secretaries’ in-province time is short, they are more likely to appoint agency heads without prior experience inside the agency in the high-profile high-risk agencies. Second, I find that after Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign, provincial leaders appointed more agency heads without prior inside-agency experience in the high-profile high-risk agencies. This study makes four contributions. First, it contributes to the literature on bureaucratic embeddedness by providing and empirically testing a theoretical framework that explains how political leaders deal with the dilemma of bureaucratic embeddedness in appointments. Second, it contributes to the literature on delegation by unpacking how the mechanisms work differently in an authoritarian regime. Third, it contributes to the literature on state capacity by showing that authoritarian regimes face inherent contradictions in building state capacity. Finally, this study contributes to the literature on bureaucratic appointments in China by providing a strategic explanation for what hinders the Chinese bureaucracy toward a Weberian direction.
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    American Populism, Political Information, and Trade Opinion
    (2022) Campana, Robert David Louis; Gimpel, James G.; Government and Politics; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    Trade policy is a complex issue that involves economics and international politics. Traditionally, Americans have not often expressed opinions on trade policy due to its high issue complexity and because Democrats and Republican politicians since the later part of the 20th century have been inconsistent in their support for neoliberalism or protectionism. Despite this, populist candidates like Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump have repeatedly used their support for protectionist policies to differentiate themselves from more mainstream candidates. Using multiple public opinion surveys and survey experiments, this project explores how populism, anti-expert sentiment, anti-capitalism, diversity anxiety, and ethnonationalism influence American’s views on free trade policy and shows that all these factors are associated with greater support for protectionist policies. Additionally, this project examines and adjusts for the unusually high level of non-response regarding questions about trade policy.This project also analyzes what causes Americans to think trade policy (specifically, the withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership) is more important. This project finds that Americans who believe themselves to be strangers in their own country are more likely to believe the withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific partnership is important. Meanwhile, Americans who believe the United States is less respected than in the past are less likely to believe the Trans-Pacific Partnership is important. Two survey experiments are conducted to see how the presence of “don’t know” responses in trade opinion questions and patriotic framing shift attitudes on trade policy. In both cases, issue framing does not significantly shift opinion on trade policy. This project carries out a longitudinal study to see how the same group of Americans shift their attitudes on trade policy over a multi-year time frame. Generally, these shifts are very small; however, Americans with differing views on regulation displayed the greatest attitudinal shift. Initially, Americans who wanted more government regulation were the most protectionist while Americans who wanted less government regulation were the least protectionist. Over the multi-year period, this association became significantly less visible. Finally, this project analyzes how economic attitudes, immigration attitudes, economic identity, immigrant identity, local immigrant populations, and local economic data influence views on trade policy. The study finds that immigration attitudes are closely aligned with views of trade policy.