DRG Research and Innovation Grants: Initial Solicitation

(October 2013 – August 2016)

The 2013 Research and Innovation Grants Annual Program Statement (APS) funded innovative research to enhance both a deep theoretical and an applied understanding of dynamics within the DRG sector. Eight research teams led by Arizona State University; the College of William and Mary; Georgia State University; the University of California, Los Angeles; the University of Denver; the University of Michigan; the University of Notre Dame; and Williams College conducted cutting-edge research in diverse fields in the DRG sector, including human rights, electoral integrity, community governance, and transitional justice, among others.

Arizona State University - Does Women’s Political Presence Matter? Examining Descriptive, Substantive, and Symbolic Representation via a Natural Experiment
College of William and Mary - China and the African State: Evidence from Surveys, Survey Experiments, and Behavioral Games in Liberia
Georgia State University - Legitimacy Deficits in Colombia's Peace Talks: Elites, Trust, and Support for Transitional Justice
University of California, Los Angeles - Evaluating the Impact of Election Observers on Election Fraud, and on Political Representation and Accountability
University of Denver - Human Rights, Civil Resistance, and Corporate Behavior: Mapping Trends and Assessing Impact
University of Michigan - Development of an Election Forensics Toolkit: Using Subnational Data to Detect Anomalies
University of Notre Dame - Can Indigenous Associations Foster Trust, Tolerance, and Public Goods? Exploring the Role of Grinw in Rebuilding Civil Society and Democracy in Post-Conflict Mali
Williams College - Value for Money in Purchasing Votes? Vote-buying and Voter Behavior in the Laboratory


Arizona State University

Grant Title: Does Women’s Political Presence Matter? Examining Descriptive, Substantive, and Symbolic Representation via a Natural Experiment
Grant Period: August 2014 – October 2015
Principal Investigators:

The ASU research team studied how women’s descriptive, substantive, and symbolic political representation is affected by legislation that establishes quotas for the number of women serving in parliament. The team conducted their research in Uruguay, taking advantage of a five-year lag between when the gender quota law was passed (2009) and the elections for which it was first implemented (October 2014) to conduct a natural experiment on the law’s effects, independent of those attributed to its drafting and passage. The ASU team implemented a two-wave survey, before and after quota implementation, and compared those survey results to content analyses of election coverage, legislators’ floor speeches and websites, and bill sponsorship.

Research Report: Does Women’s Political Presence Matter? Examining the Effects of Descriptive Representation on Symbolic Representation in Uruguay 

DOWNLOAD (PDF)


College of William and Mary

Grant Title: China and the African State: Evidence from Surveys, Survey Experiments, and Behavioral Games in Liberia
Grant Period: May 2014 – June 2016
Principal Investigators:

What are the effects of Chinese investment and development projects on the perceived legitimacy of African states? In recent years, China has dramatically increased the size and scope of its aid to and investment in sub-Saharan Africa; the differences in China’s approach to aid, compared to the Western model, have ignited debate about whether Chinese aid negatively affects governance and government legitimacy in the recipient country. In this paper, a research team led by The College of William and Mary tested this proposition in rural and urban Liberia. The research combined a public opinion survey; a survey experiment presenting one of three vignettes describing the roles of Chinese aid, US aid, or the Liberian government in service provision and corruption in Liberia; and an experimental game that measured how voluntary tax compliance—a standard measure of government within the academic literature—was affected by exposure to one of the same three vignettes. Both survey experiment and experimental games included a control group, for participants who were not read a vignette, and the vignettes were identical except for the name of the actor (China, US, or the Liberian government). Key findings from this pilot study include:

  • Exposure to Chinese and US aid and investment improves Liberians’ perceptions of Chinese and US donors.
  • Exposure to Chinese and US aid and investment does not weaken and may even enhance Liberians’ perceptions of the legitimacy of their government.
  • Exposure to US aid is associated with Liberians’ having more positive perceptions of the quality of their democracy.

Research Report: China and the African State: Evidence from Surveys, Survey Experiments, and Behavioral Games in Liberia

DOWNLOAD (PDF)


Georgia State University

Grant Title: Legitimacy Deficits in Colombia's Peace Talks: Elites, Trust, and Support for Transitional Justice
Grant Period: April 2014 – May 2015
Principal Investigators:

GSU’s research team analyzed how the success of a peace process is influenced by the perceived legitimacy of transitional justice mechanisms, and how that legitimacy is influenced by a government's international obligations regarding the mechanisms’ design and management. The GSU team implemented its research in Colombia, through two waves of a public opinion survey with embedded experimental vignettes, and presented the results from each wave to public, private, and international stakeholders in Colombia. Key findings include:

  • Using narrative to contextualize the crimes and victims increased public support for the peace process: noticeably different responses were received when a survey question was asked after the parameters of the question had been embedded within a story. For instance, respondents showed significantly higher support for the reintegration of ex-combatants into social and political life when they were given a short story that explained why the individual had joined a rebel military force, what atrocities or injustices he had committed and why, and what level of authority he had had within the organization than if respondents were asked a more abstract question such as: “Should ex-combatants who have committed human rights abuses be able to run for political office?”
  • Lowered public trust in any party to the peace talks, regardless of what atrocities were committed by that party, decreased public support for the peace process, implying that parties need to build public trust equally in all players at the negotiating table to gain public buy-in to the peace process.

Research Report: Legitimacy Deficits in Colombia's Peace Talks: Elites, Trust, and Support for Transitional Justice

DOWNLOAD (PDF)


University of California, Los Angeles

Grant Title: Evaluating the Impact of Election Observers on Election Fraud, and on Political Representation and Accountability
Grant Period: April 2014 – December 2015
Principal Investigators:

  • Daniel Posner, Comparative Politics, University of California, Los Angeles
  • George Ofosu, Political Science, University of California, Los Angeles

The UCLA researchers studied the causal effects of election observers on election-day fraud and administrative irregularities in the 2014 tripartite elections in Malawi, examining what type of fraud and irregularities occurred, how the presence of observers did or did not mitigate it, and whether there was a variation in fraud or observer effectiveness in rural versus urban precincts. This study built on PI George Ofosu’s work in Ghana during the December 2012 general election, which found that election-day observers did reduce fraud, but that political actors reduced the observers’ effectiveness by relocating fraud to other polling stations.


University of Denver

Grant Title: Human Rights, Civil Resistance, and Corporate Behavior: Mapping Trends and Assessing Impact
Grant Period: October 2014 – December 2015
Principal Investigators:

  • Erica Chenoweth, Josef Korbel School of International Studies, University of Denver
  • Tricia Olsen, Business Ethics and Legal Studies, University of Denver

Corporations can be implicated in human rights violations involving their employees and the communities in which they operate. Although corporations function within a framework of national and international human rights norms, such as the UN’s Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights—and several industries have self-regulated, promoting sector-specific standards—corporations may be most responsive not to top-down standards or enforcement, but to citizen-led resistance. What sorts of civil resistance are most effective in gaining concessions and from which corporations? What corporate characteristics—such as sector, market share, reputational value, or leadership changes—and contextual factors, like rule of law, influence the likelihood that corporations will make concessions? In this paper, a University of Denver (DU) research team constructed a new dataset to answer these questions, gathering observational data in Indonesia, Mexico, Nigeria, and South Africa. The project was a pilot, assembling the first such dataset to study how citizens organize against corporate human rights abuses and how corporations operating outside the United States respond to this civil resistance. Key findings include:

  • Multiple events of civil resistance coordinated over time are more effective than a single, one-off event; the more events, the more likely it was that the corporation made concessions.
  • Corporations undergoing leadership change were more likely to make concessions—suggesting that whether or not the civil resistance contributed to leadership change, such change presents an opening for progress on human rights.
  • Corporations in countries reliant on labor-intensive extraction (coal or minerals) are more likely to make concessions than those in countries reliant on capital-intensive extraction (oil).
  • Corporations in countries with more robust rule of law are more likely to make concessions than those operating in countries with less legal accountability, suggesting both that working to improve rule of law may ultimately make corporate concessions more systemically likely and that civil society should evaluate the political and economic contexts in which they, and their target corporations, operate to better assess the probability that civil resistance will yield change.

Research Report: Civil Resistance and Corporate Behavior, Mapping Trends and Assessing Impact

DOWNLOAD (PDF)


University of Michigan

Grant Title: Development of an Election Forensics Toolkit: Using Subnational Data to Detect Anomalies
Grant Period: September 2014 – January 2016
Principal Investigators:

  • David Backer, Center for International Development and Conflict Mitigation, University of Maryland
  • Allen Hicken, Political Science, University of Michigan
  • Kirill Kalinin, Political Science, University of Michigan
  • Ken Kollman, Political Science, University of Michigan
  • Walter Mebane, Political Science, University of Michigan

Through a Research and Innovation Grant funded by USAID’s Center of Excellence on Democracy, Human Rights, and Governance under the Democracy Fellows and Grants Program, a research team from the University of Michigan, led by Professors Walter Mebane and Allen Hicken, built an innovative online tool, the Election Forensics Toolkit, that allows researchers and practitioners to conduct complex statistical analysis on detailed, localized data produced through the electoral process. The Election Forensics Toolkit presents results in a variety of ways—including detailed country maps showing “hot spots” of potential fraud—that allow practitioners not only to see where electoral fraud may have occurred but also the probability that the disturbances in the election data that the statistical analyses detect are attributable to fraud, rather than to other cultural or political influences, such as gerrymandering or geographic distribution of voting constituencies, among others.

 

The team also produced two publications under the DFG grant: a Guide to Election Forensics and a more detailed Elections Forensics Toolkit DRG Center Working Paper. The Guide provides a more general introduction to election forensics as a field, and the DRG Center Working Paper focuses on presenting in detail the results of applying election forensics to specific elections in Afghanistan, Albania, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Kenya, Libya, South Africa, and Uganda.


Research Report: Guide to Election Forensics and Election's Forensics Toolkit DRG Center Working Paper

DOWNLOAD GUIDE (PDF)

DOWNLOAD WORKING PAPER (PDF)


The University of Notre Dame

Grant Title: Can Indigenous Associations Foster Trust, Tolerance, and Public Goods? Exploring the Role of Grinw in Rebuilding Civil Society and Democracy in Post-Conflict Mali.
Grant Period: May 2014 – December 2015
Principal Investigators:

People gather in structured, if informal, community groups for many reasons—social, such as a book club or softball league; economic, such as a team hosting a fundraiser for a member’s medical expenses; or political, such as neighbors meeting to address flooding caused by poor infrastructure. But how does participating in such groups affect people’s well-being or decisions to work for other community improvements? Level of political knowledge? Level of trust toward group members, people in the broader community, or institutions such as the government? Or willingness to tolerate differences that are often at the root of conflict, such as ethnicity and religion?

Through an Innovation and Research Grant funded by USAID’s Center of Excellence on Democracy, Human Rights, and Governance under the Democracy Fellows and Grants Program, Professors Jaimie Bleck from the University of Notre Dame and Philippe LeMay-Boucher from Heriot-Watt University, in collaboration with Jacopo Bonan from Catholic University of the Sacred Heart and Bassirou Sarr from the Paris School of Economics, worked to answer these questions by studying community groups called grins that meet in neighborhoods across Mali’s cities. The research, which included both survey data and data generated through the public goods and trust experimental games, was implemented in two sites in Mali: the capital Bamako and the twin cities of Mopti and Sevare, on the border between the formerly occupied north and the south. Key findings include:

  • Grins’ primary purpose is social, but the groups also help members meet economic needs and provide a venue for political discussion and community service, such as neighborhood cleanup.
  • The majority of grins are male-only, and the majority of grin members are male, comparatively better educated, and unmarried; however, members of male-only grins trusted one another less than members of mixed-gender or female-only grins.
  • Members are better able to produce public goods than non-members, but only when working with members of their own grin.
  • Members are considered more trustworthy than non-members, except for grins with internally displaced persons as members.
  • Grinmembers had more trust in social institutions and diverse ethnic groups, though no more trust of the government; members of ethnically homogenous grins trusted diverse ethnic groups less.

Research Report: Can Indigenous Associations Foster Trust, Tolerance, and Public Goods? Exploring the Role of Grins in Post-Conflict Mali

DOWNLOAD (PDF)


Williams College

Grant Title: Value for Money in Purchasing Votes? Vote-buying and Voter Behavior in the Laboratory
Grant Period: May 2014 – May 2015
Principal Investigators:

The Williams College research team studied how vote-buying influences voter behavior using a laboratory game implemented at Harvard University in the US and the Busara Centre for Behavioral Economics in Kenya. Key findings include:

  • If subjects knew that vote payments were being distributed, but did not receive a payment, they were less forgiving of the politician’s choice to expropriate a common resource and less likely to vote for the politician—implying that exposing or publicizing vote-buying may meaningfully alter its effectiveness.
  • If subjects received a vote payment and knowingly consented to receive it, they were more forgiving of the politician’s choice to expropriate and more likely to vote for the politician; however, if they received the payment and did not consent to receive it, their behavior did not change significantly. This finding is consistent with the hypothesis of this research that vote-buying is effective at changing ballot box results primarily when the targeted voter is actively engaged in the process.

Research Report: Value for Money in Purchasing Votes? Vote-buying and Voter Behavior in the Laboratory

DOWNLOAD (PDF)