New Research Projects



(i)  Religious Parties, Political Learning and the Consequences for Democratic Consolidation

    This project is using original data from a series of elite surveys in Egypt, Turkey and India to : (i) study the similarities and differences in various dimensions of party institutionalization and, organization for religious and secular parties in unconsolidated democracies, (ii) whether religious parties, their party leaders and, rank and file members are more, less or as likely to undermine democracy and democratic institutions compared to secular parties and party elites and, (iii) the role that religious or secular ideologies play in shaping party and individual elites’ positions on key neo-liberal economic policies in religiously mobilized societies.

(ii) Study of Economic Development and Sub-National Corruption in India

    This project is exploring (i) how and why different states in India exhibit different levels and varieties of corruption behaviors and, (ii) how the uneven growth and development across Indian states over the last decade has shaped the mix of lobbying practices and bribery that firms use to obtain policy influence across these states.

(iii) Politics and Policy Consequences of Commercial Courts

Commercial courts have been touted as a tool for delivering rule of law to domestic and foreign investors by the World Bank and the IMF but criticized by many judges, politicians and civil society organizations for reducing political support for the independence of regular courts. Furthermore, their increased popularity is not universal. Many countries whose rule of law reputation is poor have chosen not to introduce commercial courts, some who adopted them are now abandoning them and, many commercial courts have developed poor reputations. We currently lack systematic explanations of why countries choose to adopt or avoid these courts and, quantitative evidence evaluating the claims regarding their salutary effects on business confidence and investment decisions and, their troubling consequences for the regular judiciary. I therefore ask and hope to answer three questions:

  1. What explains why some countries choose to adopt commercial courts and, the structural characteristics and powers they give these courts? How relevant are economic and political diffusion mechanisms (learning, competition, imitation and, coercion) in explaining these decisions?
  2. Does the adoption of commercial courts lead to higher business confidence, higher domestic investment, higher foreign investment, lower corruption and, higher growth all else equal?
  3. How does government ability to deliver rule-of-law to investors via commercial courts influence their support for the regular judiciary’s ability to deliver civic outcomes such as human rights and media freedom to the rest of society i.e. does it decrease constitutionalized judicial powers and de facto judicial independence worsening human rights and media freedom?