Katherine McKiernan

PhD Candidate, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill



I am a PhD Candidate in Comparative Politics and Methods at the University of North Carolina- Chapel Hill. Broadly, I'm interested in clientelism and the coordination between elected officials at the local and national level. My current research examines how clientelism changes in weak party systems. I'm interested in two features of parties that challenge clientelism. First, how do politicians who do not have a party machine that selects party brokers select brokers for distributing clientelist benefits? Second, how politicians in largely non-partisan contexts, where every voter is a potential swing voter, determine which voters to target and how to target these voters? With these two features in mind, I explore how weak political parties and partisanship change types of clientelism that politicians will use. 

In particular, my dissertation explores clientelism in the form of club goods. I use a mixed methods approach to answer three questions: (1) Which types of municipalities are more likely to receive club goods? (2) Under what conditions will mayors act as reliable brokers for national politicians by attributing credit for club goods? and (3) How do club good allocation strategies change during national and local election cycles? I answer these questions using the case of Colombia and combine a formal model with regression analysis, survey experiments, and interviews from field research.

I will complete my PhD in May 2020. I earned my B.A. from Franklin and Marshall College in May 2013 and my M.A. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in August 2016. For information about my research and teaching interests, please see the links above.

For my CV, please click here.

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Chapel Hill, North Carolina

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