NGOs: In any given issue area, there exist a number of issues that could plausibly attract public attention but only a handful actually do. Why do some issues attract public attention while others remian in obscurity? Existing studies show that leading NGOs have agenda-setting power, but a number of smaller NGOs that comprise the vast majority of NGO population are largely ignored. I argue that smaller NGOs play an important role because they can increase their credibilty through the tying hands strategy to commit themselves to a particular issue(s) (hence, "issue-specific NGOs"). With survey experiments, I show that the public, often uninformed about the differences among NGOs, does not differentiate the credibility of leading NGOs and issue-specific NGOs.
Wildlife conservation: To examine my argument at the micro-level, I exploit the unique attributes of wildlife conservation as a way to cope with selection bias and measurement problems. I show that issue-specific NGOs consistently explain the variation of public attention to different wildlife conservation issues, using print and social media (newspapers and Twitter). Issue-specific NGOs were chosen from all registered nonprofits in four democratic countries based on their mission statements.
NGO data collection: With Elizabeth Bloodgood and Ajah (Powered by Data), we work to analyze how different governments collect and publish NGO data. We explore domestic and international determinats of governmental data collection behavior, using a new dataset collected for this project.
Legitimacy of INGOs: With Wendy Wong and Sarah Stroup, we explore the agency of INGOs by looking at their networking behavior and mission statements. Existing studies capture the hierarchy of INGOs, but it is unclear how INGOs can climb up the ladder of hierarchy beyond "success stories" of INGOs. We show how INGOs might increase their legitiamcy through networking with peer INGOs, using transnational social movement organization dataset (1993-2013). We then explain how different levels of legitimacy in turn affect the ways in which they communicate with broader audneces. We code legitimacy claims made in the mission statements of NGOs, some of which were chosen for theoretical interest and others through randomization (2003, 2013). We find that networking increases legitimacy better than other organizational attributes, such as headquartered in the global North or working in multi-issue areas. We also suggests that NGOs that have multiple types of audiences appeal to legitimacy differently than smaller NGOs.