research links w 7-17

What a week…

Papers & Findings

Political tech: A survey of Swedish NGOs (n=907) suggests that civil society needs lots of human resources to use social media effectively in campaigns, which raises the bar for entry, and strengthens an elite cohort of civilĀ  society organizations. Tech was shown to directly help voters, however, as new research strengthens the claim that information apps for voters increase electoral participation, based on electoral data sets from 12 countries and a randomized field experiment during the 2013 Italian parliamentary elections. An online field experiment with San Fransisco residents (n=140,000) also suggests that people who vote are more likely to engage in other forms of political participation, or at least more likely to open NGO surveys.

Thinking about cities, a study of 65 mid-to-large size US cities suggest that data analytics practices are wide spread, and that leadership attention, capacity and external partners are the primary factors determining whether cities engage with big data. A researcher from International Data Corporation (whoa) compares three prominent models for evaluating the implementation of smart cities, and suggests how city managers should merge them. Continue reading “research links w 7-17”

research links w 4/17

Papers & Findings

The world is ending. The 2016 Corruption Perceptions Index finds links between corruption and inequality, and notes falling scores for countries around the world. The Economist Intelligence Unit’s Democracy Index is titled Revenge of the “deplorables”, and notes a worsening of the worldwide “democratic recession” in 2016.

Civic techs. What are the most important characteristics for civic apps? Low threshold for use, built in feedback, and visible change and engagement across users. This according to a paper presented at a recent Cambridge conference. Meanwhile, research on Twitter use in the 2016 Ugandan elections finds that the social media platform “provides minority groups important access to public space otherwise denied on traditional media platforms,” and a Yale study suggests that city use of citizen reporting platforms correlate with lower levels of crime, potentially due to increased social cohesion, though the authors are careful not to assert a causal relationship. Continue reading “research links w 4/17”

research links w1-2017 (!)

Papers and Findings

A field experiment among county governments in the US last April showed that municipal governments are more likely to fulfill public records requests if they know that their peers already have, suggesting profound implications for peer conformity and norm diffusion in responsive government. A recent commentary in Public Administration Review builds on these insights, to suggest concrete ways in which open data advocates can capitalize on this dynamic (publicize proactive fulfillment, bolster requests by citing prior fulfillment, request proactive fulfillment through feedback channels, request data on fulfillment when all else fails).

Meanwhile, Austrian researchers surveyed users of a citizen reporting platform for municipal public services (n=2,200, city not named, which is problematic for external validity, they call their study an “experiment”), and argue personal and pro-social motivations as the most important drivers of participation, but find no support for the technology acceptance model or demographic characteristics as drivers of participation (though they do note that “the gender divide is disappearing” (2768), so that’s good to know).

Continue reading “research links w1-2017 (!)”

Democracy in the eye of the beholder

I love it when messy methods get topical, and this might be one of the very few silver linings to come out of Trumpland. December saw the publication of an IPSR special issue on measuring democracy, and then shit got real this week, when Andrew Gelman began a stream of posts criticizing the application of EIP methodology to the recent presidential elections in US states, and especially the claim/meme that North Carolina is no longer a democracy.

Continue reading “Democracy in the eye of the beholder”

The long haul towards evidence: information in elections edition

Civil society groups emphasize the need for high quality public information on the performance of politicians. But, does information really make a difference in institutionally weak environments? Does it lead to the rewarding of good performance at the polls or are voting decisions going to be dominated by ethnic ties and clientelistic relations?

Enter the Metaketa project’s first phase, running 7 experimental evaluations in 6 countries to answer that question: Does more info change voter behavior? The results and synthetic analysis are all coming out early next year, which is exciting, but a long ways away. I was also happy to see that they have a pre-analysis plan for that synthesis work (basically a self control mechanism to ensure that data doesn’t get fudged under analysis to support preferred outcomes, unfortunately they don’t really get used). Continue reading “The long haul towards evidence: information in elections edition”