Publications

Kao, Kristen. In Press. “Electoral Institutions and Social-Identity Based Clientelism in Jordan.” Political Research Quarterly.

Abstract: In contexts where social cleavages are universally salient, how can political alliances across social identity groups be forged? A wealth of research examines the effects of either electoral rules or social identity on electoral behavior, but the interplay between these two factors is understudied. This article leverages original datasets of tribal voting coalitions, parliamentarian constituent casework logs, and a national survey in Jordan to demonstrate how institutions interact with social identity to shape distributive politics. Within single non-transferable vote districts (SNTV), representatives win their seats based on tribal support and practice tribal favoritism in service provision. On the contrary, elected officials in single member plurality districts (SMDs) cobble together more diverse coalitions to win their seats and distribute state benefits more evenly between in-group and out-group members. Bolstering these findings, data from a 2014 nationwide survey show that a history of having tribal connections with parliamentarians augments voter turnout in SNTV districts, whereas it has no relationship with voter turnout in SMDs. This article offers an understanding of why politicians build electoral coalitions and distribute clientelistic benefits within or across social identity groups with important implications for the consideration of electoral institutional design in developing countries.

With Ferree, Karen, Boniface Dulani, Adam S. Harris, Ellen Lust, Cecilia Ahsan Jansson, and Erica Metheney. Accepted for Publication at Comparative Political Studies. “Disease Threat, Stereotypes, and Covid–19: An Early View from Malawi and Zambia.” 2021. The Program on Governance and Local Development Working Paper Series, No. 36, University of Gothenburg. http://gld.gu.se/media/2009/gld-working-paper-36.pdf

With Ellen Lust, and Lise Rakner. In Press. “Vote-Buying, Anti-Corruption Campaigns, and Identity in African Elections?” World Development. Available here.

Kao, Kristen. With Mara Revkin. In Press. “No Peace Without Punishment? Reintegrating Islamic State Collaborators in Iraq.” The American Journal of Comparative Law. Draft here.

Kao, Kristen and Mara R. Revkin. 2021. “Retribution or Reconciliation? Attitudes Towards Rebel Collaborators After Conflict.” American Journal of Political Science. Winner of the Franklin L. Burdette/Pi Sigma Alpha Best Paper Award for APSA 2019. https://doi.org/10.1111/ajps.12673

Kao, Kristen. With Adam Harris, Karen Ferree, Boniface Dulani, Ellen Lust, Erica Metheney, and Cecilia Ahsan. 2021. “Elections in the Time of Covid-19: The Triple Crises Around Malawi’s 2020 Presidential Elections.” Journal of Elections, Public Opinion & Parties.

Kao, Kristen. With Ellen Lust and Gibran Okar. 2021. “Historical Legacies, Social Cleavages, and Support for Political Islam.” The Oxford Handbook of Politics in Muslim Societies, edited by Melani Cammett and Pauline Jones. DOI: 10.1093/oxfordhb/9780190931056.001.0001

Kao, Kristen. With Adam Harris, Karen Ferree, Boniface Dulani, Ellen Lust, Erica Metheney, and Cecilia Ahsan. 2021. “Stigma, Trust, and Procedural Integrity: Covid-19 Testing in Malawi.” World Development.

Kao, Kristen. With Lindsay Benstead. 2020. “Female Electability in the Arab World: The Advantages of Intersectionality.” Comparative Politics. Available here.

Kao, Kristen. With Ellen Lust, Boniface Dulani, Karen Ferree, Adam Harris, and Erica Metheney. 2020. “The ABCs of Covid-19 Prevention in Malawi: Authority, Benefits and, Costs of Compliance.” World Development. 137: 105167. Available here.

Kao, Kristen. 2020. With Lindsay Benstead and Ellen Lust. “Does it Matter What Observers Say? The Impact of International Election Monitoring on Legitimacy”. Mediterranean Politics. 1-22. Available here.

Kao Kristen. 2020. With Ferree, Karen, Boniface Dulani, Adam S. Harris, Ellen Lust, Cecilia Ahsan Jansson, and Erica Metheney. “Disease Threat, Stereotypes, and Covid–19: An Early View from Malawi and Zambia,” The Program on Governance and Local Development Working Paper Series, No. 36, University of Gothenburg, Available here.

Kao, Kristen. 2019-2020. Freedom in the World Report: Jordan. Freedom House.

Kao, Kristen, Ellen Lust, and Lise Rakner. Under Review. “Poverty and Clientelism: Do the Poor Demand Clientelism?” The Program on Governance and Local Development Working Paper Series. Available here.

Kao, Kristen. 2019. Freedom in the World Report: Jordan. Freedom House. Available here.

Kao, Kristen and Mara Revkin. 2019. “How the Iraqi crackdown on the Islamic State may actually increase support for the Islamic State.” Washington Post/Monkey Cage. Available here.

Kao, Kristen. 2017. “Electoral Institutions and Ethnic Clientelism.” American Political Science Association Comparative Politics Newsletter. 17(2): 44–50. Available here.

Kao, Kristen. 2017. “Review: The Arab Spring: Pathways of and Reform. By Jason Brownlee, Tarek Masoud, and Andrew Reynolds. New York: Oxford University Press, 2015.” Perspectives on Politics. Available here.

Kao, Kristen, Lauren Baker, Ellen Lust, and Marc Lynch. 2017. “Islam in a Changing Middle East: Local Politics and Islamist Movements.” Project on Middle East Political Science Studies. Available here.

Kao, Kristen and Ellen Lust. 2017. “Why Did the Arab Uprisings Turn Out as They Did? A Survey of the Literature.” Project on Middle East Democracy. Available here.

Kao, Kristen, Ruth Carlitz, Pierre Landry, Ellen Lust, and Lise Rakner. 2017. “Beyond the State: Measuring Governance at the Community Level.” APSA Comparative Democratization Newsletter. 17(2): 26–29. Available here.

Kao, Kristen, Adam Harris, Ellen Lust, Jens Ewald, and Peter Holmgren. 2017. “Governance in Service Delivery in the MENA.” World Bank. Available here.

Kao, Kristen. 2017. “Jordan: Negotiating Political, Economic, and Social Minefields.” IEMed Mediterranean Yearbook. 2017. European Institute of the Mediterranean. Available here.

Kao, Kristen, Lindsay J. Benstead, Pierre F. Landry, Ellen M. Lust, and Dhafer Malouche. 2017. “Using Tablet Computers to Implement Surveys in Challenging Environments.” Survey Practice. Available here.

Kao, Kristen. 2016. “How Jordan’s Election Revealed Enduring Weaknesses in its Political System.” Washington Post/Monkey Cage. Available here.

Kao, Kristen. 2015. “Do Jordan’s Tribes Challenge or Strengthen the State?” Washington Post/Monkey Cage. Available here.

Kao, Kristen. 2012. “Jordan’s Ongoing Election Law Battle.” Sada. Washington, DC:Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Available here.

Kao, Kristen. 2012. “Jordan.” Cultural Sociology of the Middle East, Asia, and Africa. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Working Papers

Kao, Kristen. With Kate Baldwin and Ellen Lust. “Is Authority Fungible? Legitimacy, Domain Congruence, and the Limits of Power in Africa.” Draft available upon request. Revise and Resubmit at the American Journal of Political Science.

Abstract: Scholars increasingly recognize the plurality of leaders who exercise de facto authority in governing communities. But what limits different leaders’ power to organize distinct types of collective action beyond the law? We contend that leaders’ influence varies by activity, depending on the degree to which the activity matches the leaders’ geographic scope and field of expertise (“domain congruence”). Employing conjoint endorsement experiments in Kenya, Malawi and Zambia, we test whether domain congruence predicts citizens’ willingness to comply with leader requests across different activities and examine the mechanisms that explain its importance. We find limits on leaders’ authority, that the concept of domain congruence helps predict the activities over which leaders have greatest influence, and that leaders’ domain legitimacy may underpin the relationship between domain congruence and authority.

With Ellen Lust, Marwa Shalaby, and Chagai Weiss. “Group Gender Composition and Perceptions of Legitimacy.” Revise and Resubmit at American Political Science Review. Click here for a draft.

Abstract: How does the gender composition of deliberative committees affect citizens’ evaluations of their decision-making processes? Do citizens perceive decisions made by gender-balanced, legislative bodies as more legitimate than those made by all-male bodies? Extant work on the link between women’s descriptive representation and perceptions of democratic legitimacy in advanced democracies finds the equal presence of women legitimizes decision-making. However, this relationship has not been tested in more patriarchal, less democratic settings. We employ survey experiments in Jordan, Morocco, and Tunisia to investigate how citizens respond to gender representation in committees. We find that women’s presence promotes citizens’ perceptions of the legitimacy of committee processes and outcomes, and moreover, that pro-women decisions are associated with higher levels of perceived legitimacy. Thus, this study demonstrates the robustness of findings from the West regarding gender representation and contributes to the burgeoning literature on women and politics.

With Ferree, Karen, Boniface Dulani, Adam S. Harris, Ellen Lust, Cecilia Ahsan Jansson, and Erica Metheney. Accepted for Publication at Comparative Political Studies. “Disease Threat, Stereotypes, and Covid–19: An Early View from Malawi and Zambia.” 2021. The Program on Governance and Local Development Working Paper Series, No. 36, University of Gothenburg. http://gld.gu.se/media/2009/gld-working-paper-36.pdf

Kao, Kristen. Under Review. “Legal Pluralism and Fragmented Sovereignty: A Survey Experiment in Iraq.” 2022. Quality of Government Institute Working Paper Series, 2022:5. https://www.gu.se/sites/default/files/2022-06/2022_5_Kao.pdf.  Presented at ISA 2022, MPSA 2022, and EuroWeps 2022.

With Kristin Fabbe and Michael Bang Petersen. “The Power of the Past: The Power of the Past: Determinants of Reconciliation and Revenge in Post-Conflict Settings.”

Abstract: In the aftermath of violent conflict, citizens may worry that internally displaced persons (IDPs) have contributed to the conflict in some way. In many post-conflict settings, identifying former enemy collaborators versus innocent bystanders forced to flee violence is extremely difficult. All IDPs risk becoming stigmatized and face difficulties reintegrating into society. This work considers the role of moral disapproval and future social value in processes of post-conflict reconciliation with stigmatized IDPs. We run experiments embedded within a large-N survey across three areas of Iraq (n=4,500) that are experiencing the return of stigmatized IDPs, many of whom are suspected of having collaborated with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). We find that immutable factors related to a stigmatized IDP’s past behavior, namely the severity of a transgression and the volition behind it, are the strongest predictors of both reconciliation and revenge. Mediation analysis using cognitive and emotional mediators further demonstrates that past behavior shapes justice intuitions so strongly because it simultaneously activates a past-oriented moral condemnation and a future-oriented heuristic assessment of the value and risks of associating with the stigmatized individual. With respect to emotional pathways, sympathy mediates the relationship between a transgressor’s past behavior and support for reconciliation, while fear – albeit to a lesser extent – mediates the relationship between a transgressor’s past behavior and the desire for revenge. Anger mediates the relationship between past behavior and both reconciliation and revenge.

With Ellen Lust. Local Governance in the Middle East and North Africa. Edited volume. Under review. Draft available upon request.

With Ellen Lust. “Do List Experiments Run as Expected? Examining Implementation Failure in Kenya, Zambia, and Malawi.” The Program on Governance and Local Development Working Paper Series, No. 57, University of Gothenburg. https://gld.gu.se/media/2684/gld-working-paper-57.pdf Presented at the European Political Science Association 2021.