Publications by Type: Working Paper

Working Paper
King, Gary, and Melissa Sands. Working Paper. “How Human Subjects Research Rules Mislead You and Your University, and What to Do About it”. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Universities require faculty and students planning research involving human subjects to pass formal certification tests and then submit research plans for prior approval. Those who diligently take the tests may better understand certain important legal requirements but, at the same time, are often misled into thinking they can apply these rules to their own work which, in fact, they are not permitted to do. They will also be missing many other legal requirements not mentioned in their training but which govern their behaviors. Finally, the training leaves them likely to completely misunderstand the essentially political situation they find themselves in. The resulting risks to their universities, collaborators, and careers may be catastrophic, in addition to contributing to the more common ordinary frustrations of researchers with the system. To avoid these problems, faculty and students conducting research about and for the public need to understand that they are public figures, to whom different rules apply, ones that political scientists have long studied. University administrators (and faculty in their part-time roles as administrators) need to reorient their perspectives as well. University research compliance bureaucracies have grown, in well-meaning but sometimes unproductive ways that are not required by federal laws or guidelines. We offer advice to faculty and students for how to deal with the system as it exists now, and suggestions for changes in university research compliance bureaucracies, that should benefit faculty, students, staff, university budgets, and our research subjects.

Frankel, J. Forthcoming. “Mauritius: African Success Story”. Publisher's Version Download PDF
Mennillo, Giulia, and Suryapratim Roy. 2014. “Ratings and Regulation: A Case of an Irreversible Marriage?”.Abstract

What are the rationales for policymakers to rely on putatively disinterested actors such as credit rating agencies (CRAs) for financial regulatory input? This paper draws on perspectives from International Political Economy and Comparative Legal Studies to analyze the reasons behind the use and retention of external ratings as an indirect instrument of financial regulation. We find that allowing "market practice" to determine the relationship between ratings and regulation creates tautological justifications of the CRAs' authority, and raises compelling questions in terms of legitimacy. The purpose of this paper is to uncover the constitutive elements of the tacit acquiescence underlying the subordination to CRA ratings in regulatory matters. The examination of possible conceptualizations of legitimacy may help conduct further inquiries into the politics of technocracy.

Steiner, Gerald. 2014. “Problem Discovery as a Collaborative, Creative, and Method-Guided Search for the “Real Problems” as Raw Diamonds of Innovation”.Abstract

This paper poses that the creative search for frequently hidden “real” problems is critical if innovation aims at comprehensive system improvements and changes in thinking paradigms, rather than simple, incremental changes. These hidden real problems can perhaps best be symbolized by raw diamonds, which one strives to find in order to then grind them into sparkling diamonds, i.e. innovation. Currently, problem solving-related research focuses on the analysis and solution of predefined problems, with little emphasis on problem reframing and systemic discovery; moreover, inter- and transdisciplinary collaborations for problem finding and the application of convoluted methods receive little attention. To illustrate the search process for raw diamonds, i.e. the real problem, by way of example, a comprehensive “toolbox of convoluted methods” is applied as part of a comprehensive problem discovery process. The Planetary Model of Collaborative Creativity (PMCC) serves as the conceptual basis for this method-based search for the real problems. It shows that this toolbox requires 1) Collaborative effort; 2) Comprehensive competences (personal, professional domain, systemic, creativity, and sociocultural competences); and 3) A circular creative problem solving process, which is embedded within a sequential working process.

Bates, Robert H, and Steven Block. 2014. “The Political Origins of the Africa’s Economic Revival”.Abstract

Writing in the 1990’s, William Easterly and Ross Levine famously labeled Africa a “growth tragedy”.1 Less than twenty years later, Alwyn Young noted Africa’s “growth miracle”2, while Steven Radelet less effusively pointed to an Africa that was “emerging” and noted its rising rate of economic growth, improving levels of education and health care, and increasing levels of investment in basic infrastructure: roads, ports, and transport3. In this paper, we address Africa’s economic revival. In doing so, we also stress the political changes that have taken place on the continent. Once notorious for its tyrants – Jean-­‐Bedel Bokassa, Idi Amin, and Mobutu Sese Seko, to name but three – in the 1990s, Africa joined the last wave of democratization; self-­‐appointed heads of state were replaced by rulers chosen in competitive elections. In this paper, we assert that the two sets of changes – the one economic and the other political – go together, and that, indeed, changes in Africa’s political institutions lent significant impetus to its economic revival.

Gidron, Noam, and Bart Bonikowski. 2013. “Varieties of Populism: Literature Review and Research Agenda”.Abstract
In recent years, populism has attracted considerable interest from social scientists and political commentators (Panizza 2005, Bale et al. 2011, Mudde 2004, Berezin 2013, Rovira Kaltwasser 2013), despite the fact that, “[t]he mercurial nature of populism has often exasperated those attempting to take it seriously” (Stanley 2008, 108). Indeed, the term ‘populism’ is both widely used and widely contested (Roberts 2006; Barr 2009).1 It has been defined based on political, economic, social, and discursive features (Weyland 2001, 1) and analyzed from myriad theoretical perspectives—including structuralism, post-structuralism, modernization theory, social movement theory, party politics, political psychology, political economy, and democratic theory—and a variety of methodological approaches, such as archival research, discourse analysis, and formal modeling (Acemoglu et al. 2011, Ionescu and Gellner 1969, Canovan 2002, Hawkins 2009, Goodliffe 2012, Postel 2007). As observed by Wiles, “to each his own definition of populism, according to the academic axe he grinds” (Wiles, in Iunescu and Gellner 1969, p. 166).
Hochschild, Jennifer L. 2010. “How Did the 2008 Economic Crisis Affect Social and Political Solidarity in Europe?”.Abstract

One possible outcome of the economic crash of 2008 was that the majority or mainstream members of a society would direct their anger and fear against the minority or marginal members of their society.  Commentators on television or the radio would claim, “it’s all the fault of the immigrants!” or “if we didn’t hand over so much of our tax dollars to the poor, the economy would not have deteriorated so much,” or “social benefits to African Americans [or German Turks] have distorted the housing market.”  Citizens would come to believe these assertions, politicians would echo them—and the upshot would be not only a deteriorating national and international economy but also increased hostility and fear among racial, ethnic, or nationality groups in a country.  Social solidarity would decline, perhaps irrevocably.


WCFIA Working Paper 10-0004, January 2010

Comin, Diego. 2010. “Technology Diffusion and Postwar Growth”.Abstract

In the aftermath of World War II, the world's economies exhibited very different rates of economic recovery. We provide evidence that those countries that caught up the most with the US in the postwar period are those that also saw an acceleration in the speed of adoption of new technologies. This acceleration is correlated with the incidence of US economic aid and technical assistance in the same period. We interpret this as supportive of the interpretation that technology transfers from the US to Western European countries and Japan were an important factor in driving growth in these recipient countries during the postwar decades.


Harvard Business School Working Paper No.11-027, June 2010

Aghion, Philippe, Philippe Askenazy, and Nicolas Berman. 2007. “Credit Constraints and the Cyclicality of R&D Investment: Evidence from France”.Abstract

We use a French firm-level panel data set over the period 1993-2004 to analyze the relationship between credit constraints and firms' R&D behavior over the business cycle. Our main results can be summarized as follows: (i) the share of R&D investment over total investment is countercyclical without credit constraints, but it becomes more procyclical as firms face tighter credit constraints; (ii) the result is magnified for firms in sectors that depend more heavily upon external finance; (iii) in more credit constrained firms, R&D investment share plummets during recessions but does not increase proportionally during upturns; (iv) average R&D investment and productivity growth are more negatively correlated with sales volatility in more credit constrained firms.


WCFIA Working Paper 07-04, August 2007

Aghion, Philippe, Thibault Fally, and Stefano Scarpetta. 2007. “Credit Constraints as a Barrier to the Entry and Post-Entry Growth of Firms”.Abstract

Advanced market economies are characterized by a continuous process of creative destruction. Market forces and technological developments play a major role in shaping this process, but institutional and policy settings also influence firms’ decision to enter, to expand if successful and to exit if competition becomes unbearable. In this paper, we focus on the effects of financial development on the entry of new firms and the expansion of successful new businesses. Drawing from harmonized firm-level data for 16 industrialized and emerging economies, we find that access to finance matters most for the entry of small firms and in sectors that are more dependent upon external finance. This finding is robust to controlling for other potential entry barriers (labor market regulations and entry regulations). On the other hand, financial development has either no effect or a negative effect on entry by large firms. Access to finance also helps new firms expand if successful. Both private credit and stock market capitalization are important for promoting entry and post entry growth of firms. Altogether, these results suggest that, despite significant progress over the past decade, many countries, including those in Continental Europe, should improve their financial markets so as to get the most out of creative destruction, by encouraging the entry of new (especially small) firms and the post-entry growth of successful young businesses.


WCFIA Working Paper 07-06, March 2007

Aghion, Philippe, Alberto Alesina, and Francesco Trebbi. 2007. “Democracy, Technology, and Growth”.Abstract

We explore the question of how political institutions and particularly democracy affect economic growth. Although empirical evidence of a positive effect of democracy on economic performance in the aggregate is weak, we provide evidence that democracy influences productivity growth in different sectors differently and that this differential effect may be one of the reasons of the ambiguity of the aggregate results. We provide evidence that political rights are conducive to growth in more advanced sectors of an economy, while they do not matter or have a negative effect on growth in sectors far away from the technological frontier. One channel of explanation goes through the beneficial effects of democracy and political rights on the freedom of entry in markets. Overall, democracies tend to have much lower entry barriers than autocracies, because political accountability reduces the protection of vested interests, and entry in turn is known to be generally more growth-enhancing in sectors that are closer to the technological frontier. We present empirical evidence that supports this entry explanation.


WCFIA Working Paper 07-05, May 2007

Alfaro, Laura, Andrew Charlton, and Fabio Kanczuk. 2007. “Firm-Size Distribution and Cross-Country Income Differences”.Abstract

We investigate, using a unique firm level dataset of nearly 20 million firms in 80 countries, whether differences in the allocation of resources across heterogeneous plants are a significant determinant of cross-country differences in income per worker. Using a monopolistic competitive firm framework to derive our benchmark calibration, we find that the model over-explains income variance. We further explore whether the results are driven by sample biases, calibration assumptions, or modeling choice. We find the same results prevail even in sub-samples in which the data are more reliable, and when we vary the calibration assumptions. This suggests the need for more complex modeling structures. Despite these acknowledged shortcomings, our results suggest that misallocation of resources is a crucial determinant of income dispersion.


Harvard Business School Working Paper 07-086, April 2007

Alfaro, Laura, and Andrew Charlton. 2007. “Growth and the Quality of Foreign Direct Investment: Is All FDI Equal?”.Abstract

In this paper we distinguish different “qualities” of FDI to re-examine the relationship between FDI and growth. We use ‘quality’ to mean the effect of a unit of FDI on economic growth. However, this is difficult to establish because it is a function of many different country and project characteristics which are often hard to measure. Hence, we differentiate “quality FDI” in several different ways. First, we look at the possibility that the effects of FDI differ by sector. Second, we differentiate FDI based on objective qualitative industry characteristics including the average skill intensity and reliance on external capital. Third, we use a new dataset on industry-level targeting to analyze quality FDI based on the subjective preferences expressed by the receiving countries themselves. Finally, we use a two-stage least squares methodology to control for measurement error and endogeneity. Exploiting a new comprehensive industry level data set of 29 countries between 1985 and 2000, we find that the growth effects of FDI increase when we account for the quality of FDI.


Harvard Business School Working Paper 07-072, May 2007

Iyer, Lakshmi, and Quy-Toan Do. 2007. “Poverty, Social Divisions and Conflict in Nepal”.Abstract

We conduct an econometric analysis of the economic and social factors which contributed to the spread of violent conflict in Nepal. We find that conflict intensity is significantly higher in places with greater poverty and lower levels of economic development. Violence is higher in locations that favor insurgents, such as mountains and forests. We find weaker evidence that caste divisions in society are correlated with the intensity of civil conflict, while linguistic diversity has little impact.


WCFIA Working Paper No. 07-02, April 2007

Alesina, Alberto, and Paola Giuliano. 2007. “The Power of the Family”.Abstract

The structure of family relationships influences economic behavior and attitudes. We define our measure of family ties using individual responses from the World Value Survey regarding the role of the family and the love and respect that children need to have for their parents for over 70 countries. We show that strong family ties imply more reliance on the family as an economic unit which provides goods and services and less on the market and on the government for social insurance. With strong family ties home production is higher, labor force participation of women and youngsters, and geographical mobility, lower. Families are larger (higher fertility and higher family size) with strong family ties, which is consistent with the idea of the family as an important economic unit. We present evidence on cross country regressions. To assess causality we look at the behavior of second generation immigrants in the US and we employ a variable based on the grammatical rule of pronoun drop as an instrument for family ties. Our results overall indicate a significant influence of the strength of family ties on economic outcomes.


WCFIA Working Paper No. 07-10, April 2007

Alfaro, Laura, and Faisal Z Ahmed. 2007. “The Price of Capital: Evidence from Trade Data”.Abstract

In this paper we use highly disaggregated data on trade in capital goods to study differences in the price of capital across countries. Our strategy is motivated by the fact that most countries import the bulk of machinery equipment (from a small number of industrialized countries). We find the price of imported capital goods to be negatively and significantly correlated with the income of the importing country. Because most low-income countries import the bulk of capital goods, our results provide suggestive evidence that capital goods are more expensive in poor countries, consistent with the conventional explanation regarding the low real investment rates in poor countries.


Harvard Business School Working Paper 07-073, March 2007

Vargas, Juan F, and Oeindrila Dube. 2006. “Are All Resources Cursed? Coffee, Oil, and Armed Conflict in Colombia”.Abstract

The “Resource Curse” posits a positive association between the value of natural commodities and civil conflict. In this paper, we suggest that the value-to-violence relationship differs across commodities, and that the factor intensity of production determines whether a rise in the price of a legally traded good will exacerbate conflict. We exploit exogenous price shocks for coffee and oil to test this hypothesis, using data on politically-motivated violence in Colombia over 1988 to 2004. We find that a drop in coffee prices during the 1990s led to a disproportionate rise in conflict in the coffee areas. Poverty dynamics follow a similar pattern, while substitution into drug crops do not, which suggests that it is the fall in income rather than the drug trade that fuelled this effect. In contrast, we find that oil prices are positively related to clashes with government forces, and that state revenue is used to strengthen military presence in oil areas. Our results suggest that the income channel is critical in determining how price shocks to labor-intensive commodities affect insurgency. However, for capital-intensive goods, the revenue effect predominates in mediating how the value of the commodity affects violence.


WCFIA Working Paper No. 07-01, December 2006.

Alfaro, Laura, and Eliza Hammel. 2006. “Capital Flows and Capital Goods”.Abstract

We examine one of the channels through which international financial integration can help promote growth. We study the relation between equity market liberalization and imports of capital goods. For the period 1980–1997, we find that, after controlling for other macroeconomic policies and fundamentals, stock market liberalization is associated with a significant increase in the share and variety of imports of machinery and equipment. We hypothesize this can be attributed to the consequences of financial integration, which allows access to foreign capital, and provide evidence consistent with this channel. Hence, we find that increased access to international capital allows countries to enjoy the benefits embodied in international capital goods.


WCFIA Working Paper 06–03, March 2006

Aghion, Philippe, and Ioana Marinescu. 2006. “Cyclical Budgetary Policy and Economic Growth: What Do We Learn from OECD Panel”.Abstract

This paper uses yearly panel data on OECD countries to analyze the relationship between growth and the cyclicality of government debt. We develop new time-varying estimates of the cyclicality of public debt. Our main findings can be summarized as follows: (i) less procyclical public debt growth can have significantly positive effects on productivity growth, in particular when financial development is lower; (ii) public debt growth has become increasingly countercyclical in most OECD countries over the past twenty years, but this trend has been less pronounced in the EMU; (iii) less financially developed or more open economies display less countercyclical public debt growth.


WCFIA Working Paper 07-08, June 2006