Forthcoming in Conflict Management and Peace Science

Ethnic Political Exclusion and Terrorism: Analyzing the Local Conditions for Violence

Abstract: Previous work finds that countries that contain an excluded group are at higher risk of terrorism.  However, there are good reasons to think that the impact of exclusion may be more likely to motivate ethnic violence when this exclusion is paired with local conditions that increase awareness of intergroup competition.  In this study, we examine sub-national terrorist violence and find that areas that contain an excluded ethnic group are at higher risk of violence.  Moreover, this risk is heightened by regional population density, wealth, and country regime type. 

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Forthcoming in Journal of Global Security Studies

Geography and the Certainty of Terrorism Event Coding

Abstract: While event data provides researchers with insight into contemporary security threats, many are built upon secondary sources that may insert bias into empirical studies.  Specifically, we argue that one form of bias - description bias - can be conditional on an event’s characteristics or locale, thus influencing the certainty an observation is coded as an act of terrorism. We find that, using the Global Terrorism Database’s own variables, attacks on civilians, particular types of tactics, and attacks that occur closer to a populated place are more likely to be coded as terrorism.  These findings speak to broader conceptual issues in terrorism research and reiterates the need for researchers to evaluate the validity of their data before making claims.    

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Forthcoming in Terrorism & Political Violence

Generosity is a Dangerous Game: Aid Allocation and the Risks of Terrorism

Abstract: While evidence has suggested that international assistance projects become the targets of violence, political science research has often addressed this relationship at the state level and not the aid location itself.  Given the heterogeneous nature of aid distribution and terrorist behavior within a state, it is important to study this relationship using higher resolution data.  Using geocoded terrorist attack and multilateral aid distribution data, coupled with the PRIO-GRID cell structure, our approach sheds light on whether areas in which aid is distributed are more likely to be targeted by terrorist groups.  Our results show that areas where aid is being distributed are targeted more heavily than areas without aid distribution.  The modality of specific multilateral aid projects is also shown to impact whether they are more likely to be targeted.  Further, we show that terrorists select different types of targets in aid locations than they do in non-aid locations, lending support to the notion that terrorists seek to intimidate local populations from collaboration with the government and to dissuade further government efforts.  The results not only highlight and expand upon the dangers associated with aid distribution, but also the notion that aid content is a factor in terrorist targeting preferences.

In The Cambridge Companion to Religion and Terrorism:

Rational Choice and Religious Terrorism: Its Bases, Applications, and Future

Abstract: While for many, the term “rational choice” signifies a normative judgment about an individual’s choices, it presents a much different reality for scholars. For social scientists, it refers to a range of models that posit that individuals will be motivated by self-interest and a desire to maximize their sense of well-being or, in the language of economists, their utility. These models have imposed an element of predictability on human behavior, allowing for the scientific study of a range of economic, social, and political processes – including terrorism. In addition, rational choice also has much to offer in the study of religious terrorism, despite the metaphysical dimensions of belief. This chapter discusses the assumptions of the rational choice model, its use in terrorism research and applicability to the study of religious terrorism, objections to the model, and its future applications.

In International Interactions 40(5):

Ruling the Sea: Managing Maritime Conflicts through UNCLOS and Exclusive Economic Zones

Abstract: Two primary mechanisms for managing competitive interstate claims to maritime areas are evaluated: the creation of private ownership of maritime zones in the form of Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) and the creation of a global institution, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), to establish standards for maritime claims and dispute resolution procedures. Analyses of maritime claims in the Western Hemisphere and Europe from 1900 to 2001 show that declared EEZs help states reach agreements over maritime conflicts in bilateral negotiations, while membership in UNCLOS prevents the outbreak of new maritime claims and promotes third-party management efforts of maritime conflicts. Neither mechanism influences the probability of militarized conflicts over maritime areas.

A summary of this article is posted at [LINK]
Replication Data

In Journal of Politics 76(2):

The Primacy of the Local: Identifying Terrorist Hot Spots Using Geographic Information Systems

Abstract: Despite the wide range of studies focused on the causes of terrorism, most use the state as the unit of analysis. Doing so, however, overlooks important variation that occurs within the state. Our research seeks to determine the causes of domestic terrorism through a more precise resolution unit of analysis. We do this by using the PRIO-GRID cell structure spatially merged with a geocoded version of the GTD dataset. We then perform a Getis-Ord Gi* hot spot analysis to uncover those local areas most prone to domestic terrorism. Our results indicate the following attributes increase the likelihood of terrorism: mountainous terrain, close proximity to a state capital, large population, high population density, and poor economic conditions. When testing between regime types, we find that factors such as population, economic conditions, and the number of ethnic groups are significant only in democracies, while distance to capital is significant only in autocracies.

Replication Data

In Journal of Conflict Resolution 58(2):

The Effect of Competition on Terrorist Group Operations

Abstract: Scholars have long accepted the contention that competition amongst terrorist organizations raises the level of violence used by the competitors.  This paper discusses this claim and advances another – that competition amongst terrorist organizations creates incentives to use less violence. Using insights from the organizational ecology literature - namely that competition occurs within “species” – I create a variable that assesses intra-species competition. I test both claims using a dataset of domestic terrorism created from the Global Terrorism Dataset for the years 1970-1997. I find support for the hypothesis that competition leads to more terrorism, validating the claims of outbidding theorists.  Furthermore, ideologies have differential effects on whether outbidding occurs, with nationalist and religious terrorist groups responding to competition with more terrorism and left-wing organizations responding with less.

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In Journal of Conflict Resolution 52(2):

IO Mediation of Interstate Conflicts: Moving Beyond the Global vs. Regional Dichotomy

Abstract: Regional and global intergovernmental organizations have grown both in number and scope, yet their role and effectiveness as conflict managers is not fully understood. Previous research efforts tend to categorize organizations solely by the scope of their membership, which obscures important sources of variation in institutional design at both the regional and global levels. International organizations will be more successful conflict managers if they are highly institutionalized, if they have members with homogenous preferences, and if they have more established democratic members. These hypotheses are evaluated with data on territorial (1816- 2001), maritime (1900-2001), and river (1900-2001) claims from the Issue Correlates of War (ICOW) project in the Western Hemisphere, Europe, and the Middle East. Empirical analysis suggests that international organizations are more likely to help disputing parties reach an agreement if they have more democratic members, if they are highly institutionalized, and when they employ binding management techniques.


In Political Research Quarterly 61(3):

The Impact of the Australian Ballot on Member Behavior in the U.S. House

Abstract: Katz and Sala link the development of committee property rights in the late nineteenth century U.S. House of Representatives to the introduction of the Australian ballot. If, as Katz and Sala posit, members of Congress were motivated to seek personal reputations to carry them to reelection in the new Australian ballot environment, we argue behaviors with more immediate political payoffs also should have changed in ways their theory would predict. We examine whether three different sorts of everyday member behavior—committee assignments, floor voting behavior, and the distribution of pork barrel projects—changed in ways consistent with the Katz and Sala theory. We find outcomes supportive of the theory, but usually only when the office bloc ballot variant of the Australian ballot, and not the Australian ballot more generally, was in use.