Fields: Comparative Politics, Public Policy, Methodology

Dissertation title: When Do Disadvantaged Groups Participate in the Decentralized Governance of Natural Resources and Public Services? Evidence from India, Nepal, and the Global South

Dissertation committee: Krister Andersson (chair), Kenneth Bickers, Carew Boulding, Peter Newton, Alex Pfaff (Duke University)

Dissertation description: Although countries across the Global South have pursued participatory decentralization reforms in recent decades to empower local communities to govern public services, land, and natural resources, early evidence on decentralization suggests that ethnic minorities and other marginalized groups rarely participate in the institutions of decentralization to the same degree as members of the dominant elite groups. This dissertation examines the drivers of participation for members of ethnic minorities and the rural poor, using a nationally-representative evaluation of a decentralized natural resource governance program across two decades in Nepal, a study of rural local governments in India, and a global comparative study of decentralized natural resource governance institutions in 24 countries across the Global South. Results suggest that the specific institutional design features of decentralization can provide incentives and disincentives for participation on the part of historically disadvantaged groups, and that this explains variations in the participation of ethnic minorities and the rural poor.

PhD defense date: December 4th, 2018

Awards: Beverly Sears grant (three times), Institute for Humane Studies research grant (twice), paper nominated for Betty Nesvold prize for the best paper on women and politics (WPSA, 2018), key personnel on a grant that was successfully funded by the National Science Foundation (Programs: Political Science and Decision, Risk, and Management Sciences; Award: SES-1757136; PI: Krister Andersson; $555,149).


Cook, N.J., T. Grillos, K.P. Andersson. “Gender quotas increase the equality and effectiveness of climate policy interventions.” Nature Climate Change 9: 330-334.

Andersson, K.P., N.J. Cook, T. Grillos, … and E. Mwangi. 2018. “Experimental evidence on Payments for Forest Commons Conservation.” Nature Sustainability 1(3): 128-135.

Cook, N.J., G.D. Wright, and K.P. Andersson. 2017. “Local Politics of Forest Governance: Why NGO Support Can Undermine Local Government Responsiveness.” World Development 92: 203-214.

Teaching interests: comparative public policy; comparative politics; American public policy; research methods; environmental politics and policy; international development; South Asian politics