Welcome! I'm a Ph. D. candidate in the Department of Government at Harvard University and a member of the Institute for Quantitative Social Science. To list some broad categories, I study comparative political economy, formal theory, social network analysis and statistical methodology.
My dissertation project, "Getting Along without Omniscience: The Role of Networks in Inter- and Intra-Group Cooperation," blends game theory and social network analysis to better understand the relationship between group structure and cooperation. Doing away with the standard assumption that everyone in a group stays perfectly and immediately informed about all others, I am interested in they way members of groups can keep each other cooperating even when some people are out of the loop some of the time.
Cooperation is central to topic areas that run the gamut of political science. My work tends to single out topics from comparative politics, so cooperation can mean obeying social conventions, trading honestly, attending gatherings peacefully, contributing to projects fairly, keeping each other's dangerous secrets, and so on, despite incentives to cut in line, abscond with goods, throw a punch, free-ride off of others' contributions, or rat-out a neighbor. When groups interact with other groups, inter-group cooperation is also salient: keeping co-ethnics from provoking interethnic conflict, keeping fellow traders from thwarting intergroup trade, keeping caucus members from undermining bicameral agreements, or keeping gang members from sparking inter-gang warfare. In any of these cases, if the groups are large or busy or experience high turnover, say, the communication network describing who exchanges information with whom is likely incomplete. My dissertation project explores the implications of an incomplete communication network.
I consider questions like: which groups can cooperate most easily and how can two groups be compared? Why do some groups threaten to hold longer grudges? When should we expect people to be most trustworthy within a group? What changes to a group would be most effective at improving cooperation? Can some cheating ever be tolerated? Which cross-group ties are best? How can large groups support cooperation?
My interests blur into the other social sciences, and the dissertation project reflects this. The approach is in keeping with the style of models economists favor to study cooperation outside the 'shadow of the law.' The results inform the debate within sociology over how to meaningfully measure and operationalize trustworthiness and social capital. The results also inform the design of future ethnographic work within anthropology. And of course, interest in the topic of cooperation is not confined to political science.