Research

Hassan, Mai and Thomas O’Mealia. “Uneven Accountability in the Wake of Political Violence: Evidence from Kenya’s Ashes and Archives.” Journal of Peace Research. 55(2), 161–174 (2018). PDF
Abstract

We examine three competing hypotheses about how governments manage local state security officers in the wake of political violence. First, the “fog of war” hypothesis suggests that the government neglects to sanction officers due to a lack of information. But to the extent that political violence is visible, we examine two additional accountability hypotheses. The second “even accountability” hypothesis suggests that the government sanctions any officer who failed to maintain law and order. Third, the “uneven accountability” hypothesis suggests that the government sanctions officers differentially based on whether an officer’s actions were in service of or against the government’s political interests. We find support for the third hypothesis in examining Kenya’s 2007/2008 post-election violence, a period in which a reported 1,100 people were killed and 350,000 displaced. We combine micro-level archival data on 2,500 local officer appointments with fine-grained satellite data on the violence. We find that the government was more likely to fire officials whose jurisdictions saw opposition-instigated violence that targeted government supporters. But we find the opposite result where violence was instigated by incumbent supporters: there, officers were less likely to be fired if violence occurred in their jurisdiction. Our results indicate that leaders can use large-scale and highly-visible political violence as a way to identify and sanction officers with misaligned loyalties, leading to the politicization of the state.

Hassan, Mai and Thomas O’Mealia. “Representative Bureaucracy, Role Congruence, and Kenya’s Gender Quota” Working paper. PDF.
Abstract

Many countries have adopted gender quotas to create more representative bureaucracies. Bureaucratic elites within an agency, however, may be hesitant to implement a quota uniformly across all localities if they perceive geographic variation in role congruence, or the degree to which the duties of a position match gender roles. Hiring elites will strive to meet a gender quota in the aggregate by hiring more women in localities in which role congruence is perceived to be highest. Evidence from appointments to Kenya’s most important security agency after the adoption of a gender quota support the theory. We show that legislation mandating bureaucratic reform can produce varied results when the level of implementation is lower than the level at which the quota is legislated and monitored: uneven implementation allows bureaucratic elite to meet the quota, allowing the agency to avoid legislative oversight and preserve autonomy, while undermining the spirit of the reform.

Vinck, Patrick, Thomas O’Mealia, and Phuong Pham. “The Roots of (Dis)Trust in United Nations Peacekeeping Missions” Working paper.

O’Mealia, Thomas and Jessica Sun. “Make a Desert to Force the Peace” Revision in process.