Ph.D., Washington University in St. Louis, 1990. Principal research and teaching interests are formal theory (game theory and social choice), comparative politics (Western democracies and northeast Asia).
My first area of research concerns how well democracy functions in Western democracies. The basic tenet of democracy is that the wishes of the majority of the people are reflected in government action. In reality, some democracies seem to be better at reflecting people?s wishes in government policies than others. These differences in democratic performance across democracies stem from many factors including the different political institutions countries adopt, such as electoral laws, regime types, and party systems. The goal of my research project is to identify political institutions that best translate people?s preferences into government policy. To assess democratic performance under different political institutions in Western democracies, I utilize measures of voter ideology, parliament ideology, and government ideology I developed earlier with Richard Fording of University of Kentucky.
Another area of my research concerns the ongoing debate on the usefulness of rational choice theory in analyzing political phenomena in non-Western world. Critics maintain that the concept of (economic) rationality applies to the forms of market society that emerged in the West in the early modern period. To test the usefulness of rational choice theory in the analyses of politics in non-Western world, I utilize political examples from Korea. Thematically I am especially interested in the institutional changes during the democratic transition in Korea. As the country undergoes the democratization process, rules and institutions of political games need to change as those of the authoritarian era become increasingly unacceptable. My argument here is that these changes in institutions do not necessarily occur out of normative concerns. Most likely, these changes are end outcomes of political bargaining among political elites who calculate the potential political benefit/cost of available options. I demonstrate that It takes a good understanding of both rational choice theory and the political event that a researcher attempts to analyze.
I am currently in the process of compiling my past analyses of Korean political events into a book format.
CPO3520: Emerging Democracies of Northeast Asia
CPO 5740 Comparative Political Economy