Dissertation & Research


When Does Business Turn Violent?


Scott Gehlbach (chair), Professor of Political Science

David Weimer, Professor of Political Science

Kathryn Hendley, Associate Dean Law School

Nils Ringe, Associate Professor of Political Science

Examination Fields

Comparative Politics (January 2010)

Political Methodology (August 2009)

Dissertation Abstract

Under what conditions does business turn violent? Entrepreneurial activities and violence are intimately connected. The intensity of predation and violence varies significantly in different societies. It depends on how effectively the state monopolizes the legitimate use of force and prevents private parties from subverting state institutions for private gain. Many theoretical models explaining business-related violence exist, but few studies engage micro-level data. To develop empirically testable hypotheses, I conducted more than 100 interviews in six regions of Russia. To test these hypotheses, I have collected a database of over 6,000 incidents of commerce-motivated violence in Russia (1991-2010). A critical group of determinants includes executive and legislative elections. My analysis reveals that business-related violence is higher in years when the regional parliamentary elections occur because people in business find it worthwhile to participate in elections to block their competitors from monopolizing access to state institutions. I see no similar effect for executive elections.

Other Projects:

“Why Non-Democratic Leaders Establish Accountability Bodies: The Creation of Regional Human Rights Commissioners in Russia,” with Evgeny Finkel, Assistant Professor at George Washington University (Washington, DC)

“Violence and Institutions: Experimental Testing,” with Michael Caldara, visiting fellow at Economic Science Institute, Chapman University (Orange, CA)

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