Comparative Politics PhD Job Candidates
Dissertation Title: Norms-Based Compliance and Traditional Governance in Sub-Saharan Africa
Research Summary: My broader research agenda investigates the conditions that underpin political order in weak states. In particular, I am interested in the circumstances that give rise to quasi-voluntary compliance by ordinary citizens in contexts in which the formal state’s ability to enforce its decisions and deliver services is limited. The novel insight of my wider work is that in the context of many developing countries, state building often involves cooperation with rather than elimination of pre-statist modes of social organization. While territories occupied by weak and fragile states suffer from a litany of challenges, they are not necessarily ungoverned or devoid of compliance. When does the interaction of weak states with non-state institutions such as traditional chiefdoms produce political order? Under what conditions do citizens comply when governments in weak states ask them to pay taxes, register property, or receive vaccinations? How does the combination of strategic and normative considerations drive the behavior of people living in areas defined by weak statehood? These are some of the questions that connect my published work, my dissertation and intended book project, as well as my future research plans.
International Relations PhD Job Candidates
Dissertation Title: Maintaining the Inflated Self-Image: Leader Narcissism and Foreign Policy Decision-Making
Summary: My research focuses on the human factor in International Relations (IR). More specifically, my research agenda analyzes the role that personality plays in preference formation and subsequently foreign policy decision-making. My dissertation answers the question ‘how do leaders matter?' by examining how narcissism impacts the foreign polices of world leaders. In contrast to the existing literature, which typically assumes that leaders care foremost about political or state interests, I demonstrate that narcissists have other important goals. The Narcissistic Admiration and Rivalry Concept defines grandiose narcissism as a desire to maintain an inflated self-image through promotion and protection. I argue that more narcissistic leaders will direct their energy towards foreign policies which promote and protect their inflated self-image. One manifestation of this goal is that narcissists want to stand out as unique and capable of anything in foreign affairs. This means that narcissistic hawks engage in less international conflict, while narcissistic doves engage in more international conflict. A second manifestation is that narcissists have their sights set on high-profile diplomatic initiatives involving other Great Powers. However, their aggressive behavior and poor perspective-taking increases Great Power tension. Narcissists engage in more Great Power conflict. They are especially likely to unilaterally initiate Great Power conflicts. Using survey experiments, quantitative analysis of historical cases, and process tracing, I find that more narcissistic leaders do approach foreign policy differently. From a policy perspective, the central takeaway is that narcissistic leaders will more likely focus on their image rather than state interests. Optics become more important than long-term consequences. Narcissists are more prone to bombastic and high-stakes foreign policies that put the countries they lead at risk. For example, narcissists will eschew working with allies even though they will also be focused on high-stakes Great Power politics and Great Power conflict.
Noteworthy Awards: Francis R Aumann Award for Distinguished Teaching (2020-2021) and 1st prize in the Social and Behavioral Sciences Division at The Ohio State University Hayes Graduate Forum (2020).
Publications: Harden, John P. "All the World’s a Stage: US Presidential Narcissism and International Conflict." International Studies Quarterly (2021).
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