My research focuses broadly on exploring political, economic, and social conditions under which political leaders design and develop binding institutions. I examine this puzzle in the contexts of (a) authoritarian regimes where the development of those institutions is often inhibited by autocrats’ arbitrary power and (b) judicial institutions which may constrain the government by legal means. My work thus lies at the intersection of three areas within comparative politics: the political economy of institutions, authoritarian politics, and law and courts. I investigate these themes through a mix of cross-national quantitative analysis and qualitative case studies with a regional focus on East and Southeast Asia.

Job Market Paper

“Constraints from Without: Foreign Direct Investment and Judicial Independence in Authoritarian Regimes”

Although autocrats often commit to establishing reasonably independent courts for protecting property rights, it is a tough challenge for them to maintain their commitment credibly over time. Under the absence of institutional checks to constrain their arbitrary power, how may autocrats pursue judicial independence without reneging? I argue that autocrats may credibly maintain their initial commitment to judicial independence when the regime relies heavily and consistently on foreign direct investment (FDI). I construct a theory which suggests that autocrats’ ongoing desire to attract more FDI and the self-reinforcing nature of their reputation interact to make their continuous respect for judicial independence an equilibrium behavior. My quantitative analysis results using the panel data of 52 authoritarian countries show the medium- and long-term effects of the regime’s reliance on FDI on the economic dimension of judicial independence, which is prominent more in party-based and military regimes than personalist regimes and monarchies.


Working Papers

  • “From Rule-Taker to Rule-Promoting Regulatory State: South Korea in the Nearly-Global Competition Regime” (with Tim Büthe, Revise & Resubmit at Regulation & Governance; resubmitted)
  • “Constraints from Without: Foreign Direct Investment and Judicial Independence in Authoritarian Regimes”

Works in Progress

  • “Party System Institutionalization, Electoral Competition, and Judicial Independence in Developing Democracies: Evidence from South Korea and the Philippines”
  • “Differential Effects of Political Threats on Judicial Independence in Authoritarian Regimes” (with Yunus Emre Orhan)

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