Dissertation Projects

The Political Economy of Institutional Change

David Bencek

Political and economic institutions are essential determinants of  development and growth. But analyzing the comparative statics of  different institutional frameworks cannot help us understand why in  some countries more beneficial sets of institutions emerge over the  course of time. For this purpose we need a theory that captures the dynamics of competing agents shaping their institutional environment while simultaneously being constrained by it. Eventually, this will help us comprehend gradual shifts of institutional settings and explain the variation we observe today.

Spreading Autocracy: How to bring others to support your system?

Benjamin Eschenburg

The aim of this PhD thesis is to establish if there is a diffusional effect of authoritarian system and structures. There should be mechanisms at work which are comparable to the diffusion of democracies. With the Nested Analysis approach this research should identify a correlation at the macro level and the causal connection on the micro level. With this it would be shown that there is not only positive diffusion, for example learning from best practice, but also negative diffusion, as in the case of authoritarian practices.

Diaspora and the Polity: How Political Opportunity Structures Affect Diaspora Movement Mobilization and Outcomes

Audrey Ann Faber

Researchers, policy-makers and the media have quickly come to the same conclusion: diaspora have significant potential to impact their host-countries. The research, however, applying social movement theory to explain the nature and actions of these groups is limited. Even more limited - bordering on non-existent - is the application of political opportunity structure theory to explain their mobilization, tactics and success. This dissertation adds to the current discussion by addressing a startling gap within the current literature: what impact do political opportunity structures have on diaspora movement mobilization and outcomes? This goal will be achieved through qualitative case studies of three diaspora groups in two new democracies, and two established democracies.

One hallmark of the political opportunity literature is the long-standing understanding that political opportunity structures are far weaker in non-democratic nations. However, since the development of this theoretical framework, the world has seen an expansion of new democracies, especially in Latin America and South Asia. By including new democracies in this dissertation, this theoretical framework stands to be expanded and updated.

„…Sonstige 2,5%“: Warum so viele, so wenig gewinnen.

Niklas Harder

Parteien werden häufig als zweckrationale Akteure mit dem Ziel der Stimmen- und Machtmaximierung verstanden. Nach Wahlen gewinnt jedoch nur ein Bruchteil aller Parteien tatsächlich Macht. Warum gründen sich also quasi-chancenlose Parteien und warum treten sie wiederholt zu Wahlen an?

Ziel des Projekts ist ein neuer auf Rational Choice basierende Ansatz, welcher die Summe aller Parteien in verschiedenen Parteiensystemen erklären kann. Dabei sind chancenlose Parteien Anstoß zur Forschung, nicht aber exklusives Forschungsobjekt. Konkret soll ein auf Rational Choice basierendes Parteienverständnis entwickelt, formalisiert und überprüft werden, das die gesamte Breite eines Parteiensystems erklären kann (Makroebene), erklären kann warum sich bestimmte Interessen zu neuen Parteien zusammenschließen (Mesoebene) und die Motivation einzelner Parteimitglieder abbildet (Mikroebene).