Dan is currently a PhD candidate in Public Policy at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. Dan is qualified in Political Economy (primary field) and Organizational and Bureaucratic Behavior (secondary field), and is a fellow in Harvard's Inequality and Social Policy program, an NSF Graduate Research Fellow, and a graduate affiliate of Harvard's Institute for Quantitative Social Science. Dan is one of the winners of the Next Horizons Essay Contest 2014 organized by the Global Development Network in partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The contest invited original and innovative thinking to inform the ongoing discourse on development assistance.
Dan has two broad interrelated strands of ongoing research: the role of tacit knowledge (soft information) in the functioning of institutions, organizations, and societies and the impact of sometimes invisible features of organizations and institutions on societal outcomes.
Observable non-verifiable information - that is, soft information or tacit knowledge - can be perceived but is difficult to codify, to transmit, to quantify. As such the critical role this information plays both in everyday life and in the optimal functioning of private and public sector organizations is often overlooked both by the academy and by practitioners. This includes individuals' motivations and rich contextual features of work and social environments, among many other key dynamics of human life and work. Soft information plays a critical role in determining individual behavior, attitudes, and choices and as such aggregate social dynamics and organizational behavior.
Dan's dissertation focuses on the optimal level of autonomy in the delivery of foreign aid. Specifically he examines the relationship between staff autonomy, output measurement, and organizational performance in international development organizations and explore the way in which these effects are mediated by different developing country contexts. His central hypothesis is that organizations that are more independent and devolve more control to the field - that, as he puts it, navigate more by judgment and less by measurement - will be better able to leverage soft information, with increasing returns in more unpredictable and less measurable environments and task domains. Dan investigates this via quantitative (large-N statistical analysis and surveys) and qualitative (case study) methods.
Dan also has work looking at the incidence of discrimination in informal markets in Nigeria, a key driver of inter-communal engagement, as well as what influences differential state-level adjudications of the US disability standards. In both these cases unseen elements of environments provide significant aggregate welfare and social stability impacts.
Dan's held a variety of positions in international development, serving in a variety of capacities. Dan was the special assistant, then advisor, to successive Ministers of Finance (Liberia); ran a local nonprofit focused on helping post-conflict youth realize the power of their own ideas to better their lives and communities through agricultural entrepreneurship (East Timor); and have worked for a number of local and international NGOs (e.g. Ashoka in Thailand; Center for Jewish-Arab Economic Development in Israel). More on his work can be found in his CV, linked in the menu above. A proud Detroiter, Dan holds an Honors BA from the University of Michigan and did MA coursework at Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School.