Working Papers

Mai Hassan, Horacio Larreguy, and Stuart Russell. “Who Gets Hired? Political Patronage and Bureaucratic Favoritism”

Most research on hiring in the public sector highlights the incentives of local politicians to distribute government positions to partisan supporters. Other studies separately point to the role of  bureaucratic managers in allocating government jobs to close contacts. We jointly consider the relative importance of each source of biased hiring as an allocation problem between bureaucratic managers and politicians who have different preferences over public sector hiring and different abilities to realize them. We develop a theoretical model of both the relative preferences for different types of public sector positions and the relative leverage of each actor. We examine the theory empirically on the universe of payroll data in Kenyan local governments from 2004 to 2013. We find evidence of both patronage and bureaucratic favoritism, but with different types of bias concentrated in different types of government jobs, as predicted by our theory for the Kenyan case. Together, this paper suggests the inadequacy of examining political patronage alone without incorporating the preferences and leverage of the bureaucratic managers who are intricately involved in hiring processes. (link)

Tak-Huen Chau, Mai Hassan, and Andrew Little. “Communication and Coordination in the Shadow of Repression”

Communication technology helps protesters coordinate, but also allows the government to monitor and repress their actions. We study this tradeoff in a model where protesters want to "tactically coordinate" their protesting activity, but also want to avoid government forces. If leaders of a movement can send messages observed only by other protesters, they can successfully coordinate on a variety of sites and force the government to spread resources thin, lowering levels of repression and helping the success of the movement. If the government always observes the messages too, protesters can do no better than always going to a "focal site" knowing the government will send their all of their resources there as well. Intermediate cases where messages are partially observed leads to dynamics where new technologies and media that are relatively known to other protesters and not the government are used until the government can reliably infiltrate them and the protesters move on to a new medium. When some protesters are more informed than others, the model can explain protest tactics observed in recent prominent cases like having smaller "parallel" protests at the same time but different location of the main gathering.