SDI:2009 Student Profiles

The following Ph.D. candidates participated in the 2009 Summer Doctoral Institute.

Khaldoun Abou Assi


Khaldoun Abou Assi is a PhD student in Public Administration at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Syracuse University. He has built a diversified professional experience in a variety of fields: public service, diplomacy, human and institutional development. He was country participatory researcher on Lebanon’s first report on the State of Civil Society for 2006- part of an international Civil Society Index action-research project coordinated by CIVICUS. His fields of interests include NGO management, Civil Society impact on public policies and its relationship with government and donor agencies, development policy and administration, governance.

Research Project:
International development Management: State In The Moment From A Southern Perspective
Khaldoun’s Summer Doctoral Institute research project builds on and complements the work being done by Professors Derrick and Jennifer Brinkerhoff on the current state of international development management practice. It uses the same research methodology to try to provide the perspective of development management scholars and practitioners in developing countries and how they identify future challenges and opportunities related to how its application in the real world can address issues of relevance, representativeness, and responsiveness. A special attention is granted to Non-Governmental Organizations NGOs being a main anchor of development. The data analysis will help grasp how NGOs perceive development management and frame their role within this global process; it allows better understanding of the peculiar differential characteristics pertaining to various development partners, basically governments of the ‘North’ and NGOs of the ‘South’, the interaction effect between them and the implications of government-government and NGO-government relationships. It is hoped that this research would contribute a more comprehensive, yet not complete, picture on global challenges and prospects of development management. It thus provides a valuable contribution to the body of knowledge on development management and further opens the door for additional research that builds on the findings from the two researches.

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Jennifer Brinkerhoff

Tobias Schulze-Cleven


Tobias Schulze-Cleven is a PhD candidate in UC Berkeley's Political Science Department and a Research Associate at the Berkeley Roundtable on the International Economy (BRIE). In his research, Tobias studies how the advanced democracies adjust their labor market and education institutions to new social and economic challenges. Having conducted extensive fieldwork for his dissertation in Europe, Tobias will use this summer to conduct interviews about the American response. In addition to his academic work, Tobias has been an active participant in discussions about higher education reforms in Germany as the North American Representative of the German Scholars Organization (GSO).

Research Project:
Theorizing Institutional Changes in Advanced Countries’ Labor Markets
As the world economy enters a new phase in its evolution, advanced countries’ labor markets encounter new challenges in the context of a fundamentally transformed global competitive landscape. What kind of labor market institutions are needed to help the United States best deal with the current recession and lay the foundation for a future path of economic development that is politically acceptable to workers at home and supports US competitiveness abroad? Moreover, how can current institutions be reformed to achieve these goals? – To answer these and related question, we study how two European countries – Europe’s best current performer, Denmark, as well as Europe’s largest economy, Germany – have changed the institutions of their labor market regimes over the last thirty years. In the process, we will conceptualize both countries’ developmental pathways in terms of the mechanisms of institutional change that are discussed in the social sciences’ contemporary theorizing on institutional change, such as drift, layering, displacement, and conversion. This puts us in a position to draw lessons for the United States, i.e. which strategies for institutional change could reasonably be employed in the US context, given the United States’ inherited labor market institutions and noting the differential success of the two European countries’ strategies in dealing with current challenges.

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Henry Farrell

Holger Meyer


Holger Meyer is a 2nd year Ph.D student in International Affairs at the School of Public and International Affairs at The University of Georgia. He holds a Magister Artium (“with distinction”) degree in Political Science and English Philology from the Georg-August-Univesität, Göttingen, Germany. His general research interests include the impact of economic globalization on national and international institutions and post-Cold War political transformation processes. His current projects focus on the interaction of international trade, democratization and domestic conflict.

Research Project:
Prototype or Dead End? - Assessing the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme from a Business Perspective
The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) is a commodity tracking system, designed to prevent the trade in diamonds originating in conflict zones (so called conflict or “blood diamonds”). Jointly created by diamond-exporting countries, industry and civil society, the KPCS imposes extensive requirements on its signatories to enable them to certify shipments of rough diamonds as ‘conflict-free’. It is built on a waiver of WTO rules, the only such waiver explicitly designed by the WTO member states to protect human rights. While a substantive literature has evaluated the success of the KPCS from the perspective of international law, few scholars have examined the benefits and burdens of the scheme for the businesses operating in the industry. This project is designed to address this shortcoming by answering the following research questions: 1. How do involved companies view the effectiveness of the KPCS? 2. Do companies operating in different segments of the diamond industry (e.g. mining, processing, and retailing) have different views about it? If so, what explains these divergent perspectives? 3. Could this international scheme of certification serve as a model for regulating trade in other commodities that have the potential to fuel domestic or international armed conflict?

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Susan Aaronson

Jason Jackson


Jason Jackson is currently a doctoral student in international economic development at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). His research at MIT is on the political economy of institutions and lies at the intersection of industrial policy, international business and strategic management. It seeks to understand how political economic relationships in developing countries shape key institutions that govern firm-level learning, upgrading and competitive dynamics between indigenous and multinational firms. Jason has a bachelor’s degree in economics from Princeton University, a master’s in development economics from the University of London School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) and a masters in public administration from the Harvard University Kennedy School of Government.

Research Project:
Alliance formation by domestic Indian firms: Exploring the effects of Government policy initiatives and firm capabilities
The central question that our research addresses is “What is the effect of institutions governing multinational firm entry through joint ventures on learning by domestic partners”? The research seeks to understand how the institutions governing joint ventures affect learning across the joint venture between foreign to domestic partners. It will investigate the mechanisms by which institutions shape learning in high technology firms and industries. Ultimately, our research is concerned with how learning within international joint ventures affects competitive dynamics between multinational and developing country firms as the latter gain new technological and organizational capabilities.

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Anu Phene

Daniel Ogbaharya


Originally from Eritrea, Daniel Ogbaharya is currently a Dissertation Fellow and Instructor of African Politics in the department of political science at Western Illinois University, and a doctoral candidate in International Relations and Comparative Politics at Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, AZ. He earned a Master of Science in Environmental Studies and a Master of Arts in International Development from Ohio University-Athens. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of Asmara, Eritrea. His recent publications have appeared in Journal of Third World Studies (2009); Development in Practice (2008); Peace Review (2007); and The International Journal of Humanities and Peace (2006). His research and teaching areas include African Politics as well as issues of political development, environmental sustainability and peace building. He can be reached at

Research Project:
Toward Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) in Sub-Saharan Africa: The Role of Customary Institutions
We explore the applicability and adaptability of the principles and procedures of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) in non-Western contexts in general, and inter-and intra-group environmental conflicts in sub-Saharan Africa in particular. The study focuses on communal environmental conflicts—those conflicts that have to do with disputes over the allocation, use and management of key livelihood resources such as arable land, forests and wildlife. The main research questions of the study are: How applicable and practicable is alternative dispute resolution (ADR) in environmental conflict resolution in Africa? What is the potential role of customary institutions as community-based mechanisms for resolving environmental conflicts? The research will be carried out through a small-n (10 African countries) cross-national survey, and a focused comparative study of Namibia and Ethiopia. By zeroing in on the nexus between formal state-based institutions of conflict resolution and informal customary institutions, the study contributes to better understanding of how institutions enable and/or impede sustainable development.

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Mark Starik & Dr. David Rain

Ben Graham


Ben Graham is a Ph.D. student in political science at the University of California, San Diego. His research interests include civil conflict, formal institutions and investment, unrecognized states, and the former Soviet Union. He is currently working on a dissertation on foreign direct investment in post-conflict states. Prior to graduate school, Ben spent two years in the Peace Corps in Turkmenistan.

Research Project:
Political Motivations for Diaspora Investment
For reasons of both capacity and motivation, diaspora investors have the potential to serve as crucial sources of foreign capital to their countries of origin and as pivotal players in US economic engagement with high-risk investment destinations. In previous work, Liesl Riddle and Tjai Nielsen have explored the emotional, social, and financial motivations for investment within US-based diaspora communities. In work facilitated by the Summer Doctoral Institute, Ben Graham will collaborate with Professors Riddle and Nielsen to develop a new survey measure of political motivation for diaspora investment. They will coauthor a theoretical article about political motivations for diaspora investment and incorporate the new measure into surveys of US-based diaspora populations from Israel and Lebanon (in the field fall of 2009) as well as a survey of participants in USAID’s African Diaspora Marketplace program, which is scheduled to be fielded in early 2010.

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Liesl Riddle

Tariq Thachil


Tariq is a PhD Candidate at the Department of Government at Cornell University. His dissertation examines how to understand how religious nationalist parties with historically elite support bases can win the mass support required to succeed in democratic politics. His project examines the variable success of the upper-caste, Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in wooing poor Hindu populations in some parts of India, but not in others using a variety of statistical and qualitative techniques of analysis. His research has been funded by the Social Science Research Council and previous work has appeared in Comparative Politics and Contemporary South Asia. Next year he will be a postdoctoral associate at the MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies at Yale University.

Research Project:
Party Fragmentation and Social Development: An Analysis of Indian States.
A large literature has explored variation in social and human development across the Indian states, but scholars have thus far failed to identify systematic factors to explain this variation. We argue that changes in India's party system help to explain why some states achieve higher levels of human development than others. Specifically, we argue that the fragmentation of the party system has provided greater voice for low- and middle-caste voters who demand the provision of social services. We analyze data from 16 major Indian states over a 55 year period. We find that the effective number of parties is positively and significantly related to programmatic social spending, but not to spending on economic services, which can be targeted towards individuals. We show how these more programmatic patterns of spending, in turn, link up with better social outcomes such as higher literacy and lower poverty and inequality.

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Emmanuel Teitelbaum

Joël Luc Raveloharimisy


Joël Luc Raveloharimisy is a doctoral candidate in Political Science with a concentration in Comparative Politics at Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, MI. His interests include institutions and entrepreneurship, political economy of developing countries, Africa sub-Saharan politics, and diaspora investments. His dissertation research focuses on the effect of the interactions of formal and informal institutions on entrepreneurship. He holds an MBA from Eastern Washington University (EWU), Spokane, WA; a BA, Summa Cum Laude in Interdisciplinary Studies from (EWU), and a Licence et Lettres from Antananarivo University of Madagascar.

Research Project:
Measuring Diaspora Identity
Our research is a part of the Diaspora Capital Investment Project. We will develop an empirical measure of diaspora identity. This study will contribute to our understanding of the roles of the different factors that determine the interests of diaspora from conflict countries in homeland investment. We draw on the extant theoretical and descriptive diaspora studies literature to identify four main components of the diaspora concept prevalent in the literature: a group consciousness of belonging and solidarity with the country of origin (e.g., Safran 1991, Shain 2007), group consciousness of belonging and solidarity with the country of residence (e.g., Cohen 1997), contact with the country of origin (e.g., Sheffer 2006), and a commitment to the maintenance or restoration of the country of origin (e.g., Safran 1991, Ionescu 2006). Utilizing a survey of Liberians living in the United States, we then test the reliability and validity of these new measures. We also explore to what degree causal relationships exist among these variables. We conclude by discussing implications of our findings for future research diaspora homeland investment.

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Liesl Riddle

Elzotbek Rustambekov


Elzotbek Rustambekov is currently a PhD student in Strategic Management at Old Dominion University. He is originally from Uzbekistan where he earned his BBA in Finance Cum Laude from Tashkent State Technical University. Elzotbek holds an MBA in Finance from Zarb School of Business at Hofstra University, New York, and MSc in International Strategy and Economics from School of Economics and Finance at the University of St Andrews, Scotland. Elzotbek’s research interests include enterprise wide risk management, risk contingency allocation, dynamic capabilities, liability of multinationality and accounting manipulations.

Research Project:
Risk Contingencies, Performance and Institutions
Our summer research project will focus on optimal contingency level in risk management. Examining how world’s largest corporations decide the amount of contingencies for risk related events we would seek to understand the relationship between levels of risk contingency and company performance. Since institutional environment shapes risk management culture we will do comparative analysis of institutional environments where world’s largest companies from different nations operate. Our propositions would be tested on a data set with almost two decades of observations, and we will be able to see how changes in risk management attitudes, measured by risk contingencies, lead to a particular level of performance. This research links strategic management, corporate finance and risk management.

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Homayoun Khamooshi

Plamen Nikolov


Plamen Nikolov is a PhD candidate at Harvard University. His research interests include development economics, experimental economics, health economics, and applied microeconomics. He graduated with an MA in International Economics from Johns Hopkins University and a BA in Mathematics/Economics from Ohio Wesleyan University. He came to Harvard after consulting for The Lewin Group, an economic consulting group specializing in the area of health, labor and public finance. As part of an ongoing large randomized housing mobility experiment in the U.S., Plamen currently works in the Lawrence Katz NBER team, on quantifying the effect of neighborhoods on economic and health outcomes. Plamen's current research focuses on issues of development and health and, in particular, the economics of infectious disease in Africa.

Research Project:
BITter Harvest? Do Governments Protect Foreign MNEs Better Than Domestic Competitors?
Since the 1980s, governments in developing countries have been adopting laws and regulations intended to foster more attractive investment climates for foreign firms. Such adoptions have stirred a form of competition among LDC governments to create environments more conducive to foreign businesses. In fact, some economists have argued that governments may have gone too far in that MNEs could even receive better treatment than their domestic counterparts. In this paper, we examine this claim by focusing on a particular policy incentive for FDI– the Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT). BITs are agreements between two governments that protect foreign investments in the partner country. We assess the effects of BITs on the value of comparable foreign and domestic investments. Our paper employs a more robust causal inference methodology than previous studies and overcomes empirical difficulties of small sample size and a small number of clusters of earlier work on the topic. We employ a large dataset on real investment in the international petroleum industry.

Faculty Mentors: Dr. Robert Weiner & Dr. Srividya Jandhyala