I am a professor in the Department of Political Science at Stanford University. My research interests include political parties, state development and transformation, informal political institutions, religion and politics, and post-communist politics.
In my first book, Redeeming the Communist Past, I examined the paradox of the communist successor parties in East Central Europe: incompetent as authoritarian rulers of the communist party-state, several then succeeded as democratic competitors after the collapse of these communist regimes in 1989.
Rebuilding Leviathan, my second book project, investigated the role of political parties and party competition in the reconstruction of the post-communist state. Unless checked by a robust competition, democratic governing parties simultaneously rebuilt the state and ensured their own survival by building in enormous discretion into new state institutions.
My most recent book project, Nations Under God, examines why some churches have been able to wield enormous policy influence. Others have failed to do so, even in very religious countries. Where religious and national identities have historically fused, churches gained great moral authority, and subsequently covert and direct access to state institutions. It was this institutional access, rather than either partisan coalitions or electoral mobilization, that allowed some churches to become so powerful.
Other areas of interest include informal institutions, the impact of European Union membership on politics in newer member countries, and the role of temporality and causal mechanisms in social science explanations.