ResiliencyCambodia Impact Evaluation (baseline data collection complete)
Primary Investigator, with Erik Wibbels

The importance of civil society for the proper functioning of democratic institutions has been a central topic in political scholarship. In an attempt to undermine this critical source of oversight, governments around the world have stepped-up efforts to restrict organizations that promote accountability and good governance. At the same time, international funding is becoming increasingly scarce, depriving civil society organizations of a key sources of revenue. These trends threaten to undermine the independence of the civil society sector and erode its ability to act as a check on governments. This project designs and tests an innovative capacity-building program designed to increase the resiliency of NGOs to closing civic spaces by strengthening network ties between NGOs, the for-profit sector, and the public and promoting financial diversification. Using matched-quadruplet randomization, we investigate whether stronger community ties between NGOs and other non-government sectors can help NGOs diversify funding, improve organizational capacity, and increase political independence. This project will help to identify the local conditions that facilitate a robust civil society and provide strategies for fostering these conditions.

Illuminating New Solutions and Programmatic Innovations for Resilient Spaces (INSPIRES)
Primary Investigators: Erik Wibbels and Scott deMarchi

The INSPIRES project combines programming from four large international CSOs and presents an unprecedented opportunity to increase understanding of the role played by civil society in promoting democratic accountability, the strategies used by states to shrink the space in which civil society operates, and factors that drive states to restrict or expand civic space. Our research combines an original cross-national survey of local civil society practitioners in more than 20 countries with webscraping, big data, and machine learning to forecast changes in civic space around the world and identify their predictors. This original data provides an unparalleled opportunity to track global and regional trends in the behavior of governments and civil society actors and accumulate evidence for the conditions under which civil society is most likely to flourish.