My research exists at the intersection of international organizations and conflict and security studies. I am primarily interested in understanding the role and effectiveness of international organizations in conflict management, as well as the interaction of international and domestic factors in the causes and remediation of conflict. My broad research agenda seeks to answer three questions:
1) What determines how effective international organizations are at managing disputes within and between states?
2) How does strategic interaction between international organizations, states, and sub-state actors affect dispute processes and international treaty compliance?
3) How do states behave when tasked with creating the global public good of peace?
My current research focuses primarily on peacekeeping, with three ongoing multi-article projects. One project co-authored with Megan Shannon (University of Colorado Boulder) addresses the problem of resource deficiency in UN peacekeeping. We investigate the determinants of shortfalls in both personnel and financial contributions by states to peacekeeping, and then consider their impact on the efficacy of missions. We collected original data measuring monthly personnel levels authorized by the UN Security Council, enabling us to identify shortfalls based on actual personnel deployments. We recently supplemented this with a second dataset collected over several years that measures actual financial payments made by states to peacekeeping missions relative to the contribution assessed to them by the UN. My master’s thesis (subsequently co-authored with Megan Shannon and Andrew Hart) grew out of this project and was published in the Journal of Peace Research in 2018. Another paper is currently in a second round of reviews at Conflict Management and Peace Science, presenting the financial contributions dataset that we believe will make possible a host of important research on peacekeeping dynamics.
A second project, co-authored with Jaroslav Tir (University of Colorado Boulder) and Johannes Karreth (Ursinus College), addresses the problem of weak state commitments to consent-based peacekeeping. While UN peacekeeping relies on the consent of the conflict state, that state cannot credibly commit to maintaining this consent throughout the intervention, often leading to major challenges to a mission’s efficacy. We argue that certain international organizations and sources of financial aid can incentivize the state to give and sustain consent for the mission through various rewards and punishments such as development aid withholdings or economic sanctions, making the UN’s decision to intervene more likely. This project contributes to an important and emerging area of the peacekeeping literature that considers consent, while also supporting existing literature on the importance of IOs for conflict resolution, invoking the theoretical concepts of credible commitments as a means towards peace. Funding for this project has been provided by the Institute of Behavioral Science at the University of Colorado Boulder.
"Financial Contributions to United Nations Peacekeeping, 1990-2010: A New Dataset" (2023), with Megan Shannon and Morgan Nadeau. Conflict Management and Peace Science 40(1): 88-107.
"Consent in United Nations Peacekeeping," (2022). In Dorussen, Han (ed.) Elgar Handbook on Peacekeeping and International Relations. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar.
"Democratization and Troop Contributions to United Nations Peacekeeping," (2022). Armed Forces & Society 48(2): 274-301.
"United Nations Peacekeeping and Civil Conflict," (2020). Oxford Research Encyclopedia of International Studies. Oxford University Press.
"Rallying the Troops: Collective Action and Self-Interest in UN Peacekeeping Contributions," with Megan Shannon and Andrew F. Hart. (2018). Journal of Peace Research 55(3): 366-379.
"Underwriting Peace: The role of international influences in securing civil war state peacekeeping consent," with Jaroslav Tir and Johannes Karreth (under review).
"Robust Deployment or Quick Effect? Assessing the impact of peacekeeping deployment speed on conflict-related violence," (in progress).
"Leader Strategy and Domestic Constraints in State Contributions of Peacekeepers," with Jared Oestman (in progress).
“The Impact of Peacebuilding Efforts on Economic Outcomes in Post-Conflict States, with Akhil Rao (in progress).