Development and Civil Society

Simon Hoellerbauer. “Why Join? How Civil Society Organizations’ Attributes Signal Congruence and Impact Community Engagement.” Journal of Experimental Political Science, Online FirstView

Civil society organizations (CSOs) can facilitate collective action. This makes understanding what shapes whether people are likely to engage with CSOs critically important. This paper argues that whether an organization is perceived as congruent --- similar to an individual in values --- is a key determinant of whether individuals will engage with it. I use a conjoint survey experiment to test how organizational attributes signaling congruence influence respondents' willingness to attend a hypothetical organization's meetings. I find that individuals are more likely to choose organizations that are more likely to be congruent with them, except when it comes to funding. These findings imply that an individual's level of comfort with a CSO matters for engagement; thus, CSOs need to consider how they match to their publics when reaching out to potential joiners. Furthermore, donors seeking to support CSOs need to pay attention to their impact on perceptions of congruence.

Link to Paper at JEPS Draft Used For Publication Supplemental Appendix Replication Materials

Simon Hoellerbauer, Maria Nagawa, Graeme Robertson, Jeremy Springman, and Erik Wibbels. “The Effect of Government Intervention on the Operational Decision of NGOs: Evidence from a Survey Experiment in Three Countries.”

Over the last decade, increasingly repressive governments have applied a mix of coercion and accommodation to NGOs. Yet the impact of government actions on NGO behavior remains under-explored. We distinguish three types of government action and three NGO response strategies. Using unique survey experimental data of directors of 425 NGOs in Cambodia, Uganda, and Serbia, we measure how government actions impact \textit{where} and \textit{how} NGOs prefer to work and \textit{which} actors they prefer to engage with. We find that government repression and cooptation can restrict and isolate NGOs, but also fuel civic action. NGOs prefer to avoid communities where local governments deploy more repression, cooptation, and anti-NGO rhetoric. We also find that coercion reduces NGO collaboration and public involvement but amplifies public mobilization. Panel data from Cambodia suggests repression also increases public mobilization in self-reported real-world behavior. These findings have important implications for NGOs navigating and shaping political landscapes amidst democratic backsliding.

Working Paper Supplementary Appendix Pre-Analysis Plan (External Link)

Lucy Martin, Brigitte Seim, Simon Hoellerbauer, and Luis Camacho. “Marketing Taxation? Experimental Evidence on Enforcement and Bargaining in Malawian Markets.”

Understanding how to increase state capacity via higher taxation is a core puzzle in state development. Taxation is critical for states to fund key public goods, and taxation may improve state capacity more broadly. This paper argues that tax compliance is fundamentally a community-level, rather than individual-level, phenomenon. Because of this, tax compliance will be easier to achieve, and have more positive downstream effects on the state, when governments target community-level improvements. To test whether it is more effective to focus such interventions on top-down enforcement or bottom-up quasi-voluntary compliance, we ran a multi-arm field experiment in 128 markets in Malawi. We find that the bottom-up intervention, but not the top-down intervention, significantly increased tax compliance. The bottom-up intervention also increased trust in government, tax morale, satisfaction with services, and political engagement. The results show that community-level tax interventions can positively reshape citizen-state relations.

Working Paper Pre-Analysis Plan (External Link)

Lucy Martin, Brigitte Seim, and Simon Hoellerbauer. “Investigating Tax Policy Preferences Among Citizens in Weak-State Contexts.”

This paper uses a conjoint survey experiment carried out among market vendors in Malawi to assess tax plan preferences in weak-state contexts. We examine whether there is a trade-off between plans that citizens would support and those by which they would actually abide.

Pre-Analysis Plan (External Link)

Simon Hoellerbauer and Jacob Smith. “Populism as a Determinant of Foreign Aid Allocation.” Presented at 76th Annual Conference of the Midwest Political Science Association, Chicago, IL, April 2018.

In this paper, we examine how the ideology of the governing party(ies) in advanced Western democracies impacts the money budgeted for economic development and democracy assistance purposes. In this context, we explore the influence of populist parties on this process. We expect that center right and center left governments will support investment in foreign aid in the absence of parties with populist tendencies. The further parties are from the ideological center, the less likely parties will be to advocate for increased foreign aid. We theorize that populist parties will seek to direct investment to other priorities. Thus, we hypothesize that foreign aid spending will fall when populist parties are in government. Contrary to expectations, however, we do find a significant effect for populist parties, but do find that center-right governments (but not center-left governments) spend more on foreign aid than do governments with other ideological orientations. Going forward, we will continue to investigate the factors resulting in this surprising finding.

Working Paper