Fall 2017 Small Grant Awards

For Cornell Chronicle coverage on the 2017 Small Grants Program click here

Conferences

Thinking Big: Workshop on Macro-Development Policy
Kaushik Basu, Economics
Julieta C017-small-grant-awards/aunedo, Economics

Kings and Dictators: Asia’s New Authoritarianians and the Legacy of Monarchy (Conference)
Magnus Fiskesjö, Anthropology
Kaja McGowan, History of Art and Visual Studies

Projects

Are Trump Supporters Increasing in Prejudice? Assessments and Mechanisms from Psychological, Sociological, and Political Science Perspectives
Melissa Ferguson, Psychology

Is Colombia Ready for a Sustainable Cocoa Boom? Developing a Baseline Knowledge on the Productive Practices, Biodiversity Conditions and Environmental Performance of Cocoa Production in a Post-Conflict Context
Miguel I. Gómez, Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management
Ximena Fajardo, Management, University of the Andes

Endline Survey for Election Violence Project in Liberia
Sabrina Karim, Government

Ottoman-Ethiopian Relations and the Geopolitics of Colonialism in East Africa
Mostafa Minawi, History

Polarized Beliefs and Discrimination
Eleonora Patacchini, Economics
Jorgen Harris, Economics

The Effects of Employee Ownership on Executive Compensation
Michael T. Paz, SC Johnson College of Business
Christopher Boone, SC Johnson College of Business
Sean Rogers, SC Johnson College of Business

Articulating South Asian Feminist Visions for Technology
Phoebe Sengers, Information Science and Science & Technology Studies
Nicola Dell, Information Science
Palashi Vaghela, Information Science

Reasoning and Trust
Jed Stiglitz, Law School

Can the Attentional Boost Effect Mitigate Racial Bias?
Khena Swallow, Psychology
Amy Krosch, Psychology
Bohan Li, Psychology

How Housing and Labor Market Conditions Influence the Progression of Romantic Relationships
Laura Tach, Policy Analysis and Management
Sharon Sassler, Policy Analysis and Management

Embodying Social Inequality During a Time of War: A Bioarchaeological Study of Childhood Health in the Late Prehispanic Andes
Matthew Velasco, Anthropology

Restoring Credit: How People Understand and Interact with Credit Scoring Systems
Malte Ziewitz, Science and Technology Studies
Ranjit Singh, Science and Technology Studies


Conferences

Thinking Big: Workshop on Macro-Development Policy
Kaushik Basu, Economics
Julieta Caunedo, Economics

This conference proposes to begin a discussion on the role that government plays in generating economic growth in the developing world. The conference is multidisciplinary by nature and brings together scholars and policy-makers in the fields of macroeconomics and economic development. Recent events highlight the relevance of understanding the role of governments in promoting growth in the developing world, but also the interest of most developed economies in boosting economic conditions in poorer economies. Work on designing educational systems, malaria interventions, and clean water initiatives have all been borne of close academic-policy cooperation. Macro-development policy has unfortunately not developed at the same pace, despite the critical nature of the topic. The goal of the conference is to fill this gap by bringing together researchers from multiple disciplines interested in development policy.

Kings and Dictators: Asia’s New Authoritarianians and the Legacy of Monarchy (Conference)
Magnus Fiskesjö, Anthropology
Kaja McGowan, History

The current global trend towards more authoritarian politics and exclusionary nationalism is especially pronounced in Asia, and frequently involves the revival and manipulation of the legacy of kingship. This conference investigates the legacy of monarchy in the current rise of authoritarianism.

Projects

Are Trump Supporters Increasing in Prejudice? Assessments and Mechanisms from
Psychological, Sociological, and Political Science Perspectives0
Melissa Ferguson, Psychology

This proposed work tests whether Trump voters have been increasing in their prejudice over time. This inter-disciplinary project would test this main question using methods and theory from psychology, political science, and sociology. It uses longitudinal designs, implicit and explicit methods, network analyses, and big data to examine the changing motives and beliefs of Trump supporters. The results would provide new evidence for what happened in the 2016 election as well as how the electorate is changing and what it means for intergroup behavior and prejudice.

Is Colombia Ready for a Sustainable Cocoa Boom? Developing a Baseline Knowledge on the Productive Practices, Biodiversity Conditions and Environmental Performance of Cocoa Production in a Post-Conflict Context
Miguel I. Gómez, Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management
Ximena Fajardo, Management, University of the Andes

The world cocoa market currently faces the crucial challenge of an increasing demand with a quite low productive structure. As the world´s appetite for chocolate grows, and the peaceful resolution of Colombia´s long civil war seems to be approaching, the expected cocoa supply response can increase economic activity in rural areas, but can also cause undesirable environmental and social impacts. Cocoa expansion can occur in previously forested or reconvening lands in the Andean mountain ranges (Sánchez-Cuervo et al. 2012) and it can exacerbate the unequal distribution of land in the country, especially because property rights are ill defined. Nevertheless, because cocoa a native tree with a long tradition of small-holder farmer cultivation, its expansion can be done in harmony with forest cover conservation while providing benefits to rural poor households. Understanding the direction of these possible impacts is fundamental for policy makers engaged in rural development and poverty alleviation issues. Colombia it is at the gates of a major social transformation resulting from the peace resolution of Latin America’s longest internal civil conflict. Meanwhile, international aid agencies and the Colombian government are promoting cocoa as a leading crop for effectively building and keeping peace in rural areas. However, there is scant research on the potential effects of these initiatives to expand cocoa production. In this project, we will construct a bio-physical, socio-economic and geographical database with survey information of small-scale cocoa producers of three strategic regions of Colombia to develop a baseline-knowledge of the socioeconomic conditions, productive practices, environmental performance and genetic biodiversity of cocoa varieties present in cocoa farms.

Endline Survey for Election Violence Project in Liberia
Sabrina Karim, Government

In 2017 Liberia held its third general elections after its civil conflict. Security officials speculated that violence during the election was of greater likelihood than at any time since 2005 given the significant peacekeeping drawdown. According to the literature, one of the key actors involved in election violence are youth party members. Moreover, the police often exacerbate the situation by using excessive force. For this reason, this pilot study focused on changing perceptions and behavior related to election violence by targeting youth party members and the police. It did so by facilitating and evaluating a series of community dialogues and mentorship meetings between youth leaders and police. In early 2017, the PI in partnership with the Liberian National Police, a local civil society organization, NAYMOTE, and a local research organization, the Center for Action, Research, and Training, conducted a pilot field experiment to assess whether community dialogues between police and youth party members or a mentorship program between youth party members are more effective in changing attitudes about trust, conflict and violence. The ISS grant allows for an endline evaluation of the program. To date, no study has attempted to understand election violence through engaging youth party members and the police. This pilot study will be used to better understand the scale of programming needed to detect effect, but will shed light on the opportunity for programs to positively change relationships between the police and youth.

Ottoman-Ethiopian Relations and the Geopolitics of Colonialism in East Africa
Mostafa Minawi, History

Primarily relying on archival sources from the Başbakanlik Osmanli Arşivi in Instanbul (better known as the Ottoman archives), this book project delves into the untold history of inter-imperial relations during the age of High Imperialism between 1884 and 1914, in East Africa. It promises to uncover an important story of shared ideologies and competing interests by focusing on the delicate relationships between Istanbul, Addis Ababa, and the Great Powers. Along with newly accessible Ottoman-Turkish records on Ottoman-Ethiopian relations, research for the book is supplemented by Arabic, English, and French archival records to provide the first comprehensive monograph length history of inter-imperial competition along the geopolitically sensitive Somali coast. Conceptually, this research project transcends the imaginary boundaries separating academic inquiry on the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa, by examining empire and colonialism in the Red Sea Basin, from a south-south relational perspective.

Polarized Beliefs and Discrimination
Eleonora Patacchini, Economics
Jorgen Harris, Economics

This project estimates the role of “information bubbles” on the maintenance of stereotypes, using as a case study the market for law clerks. The legal market provides a unique testing ground for the hypothesis that stereotypes persist as a result of people primarily associating with like-minded individuals, because it allows researchers to observe interaction with peers that the judges do not choose (lawyers presenting cases before the court) and the hiring of peers that the judges do choose (law clerks hired annually). This project will examine the effect of exposure to lawyers from two out-groups (female lawyers and lawyers from less-prestigious law schools) on the hiring decisions of judges. It will look both at the overall number of out-group lawyers appearing before each judge in each year, and at the number of out-group lawyers presenting hard cases, which will be defined in two ways: As cases that are published, meaning that they include novel legal interpretations that are useful as precedent (approx. 25% of appellate cases), and as cases that have an appeal accepted to the Supreme Court (less than 1% of appellate cases). The findings of this project will advance both the literature on the effect of consensus information in changing prejudiced beliefs and the literature on social learning.

The Effects of Employee Ownership on Executive Compensation
Michael T. Paz, SC Johnson College of Business
Christopher Boone, SC Johnson College of Business
Sean Rogers, SC Johnson College of Business

This research project investigates the relationship between employee ownership and executive compensation. The promotion of employee ownership has been proposed as a measure to mitigate rising social and economic inequalities. Previous research into employee ownership has focused on its effects on the non-managerial workforce. However there is reason to believe that the compensation of top executives may also be affected. Since a large portion of the rise in inequality in recent decades is attributable to the rise in pay for managers of firms, executive compensation may be an important pathway through which employee ownership affects inequality. As part of this project, data will be collected on executive compensation practices at firms with employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs), as well as a set of non-ESOP firms for comparison. The analysis will examine how ESOPs influence managerial pay and the growing gap between the earnings of workers and executives.

Articulating South Asian Feminist Visions for Technology
Phoebe Sengers, Information Science and Science & Technology Studies
Nicola Dell, Information Science
Palashi Vaghela, Information Science

The proposed project empirically investigates feminist visions for technology emerging in small-town and rural India. This work is a starting point for a longer-term collaboration using ethnographic understanding of women’s lives and everyday forms of resistance in South Asia to inform technology design for and with rural, low-income South Asian women.

Reasoning and Trust
Jed Stiglitz, Law School

A requirement for public officials to give reasons for their actions is often thought of as a primary way we constrain their behavior. Yet we have very little evidence that reason-giving induces fidelity to public-regarding objectives, and a long line of “realist” skeptics posit that reason-giving primarily represents post hoc rationalization. Using a set of experiments, this project examines how various requirements for reason-giving may help resolve problems of information and badly aligned incentives in the public sector setting. It examines how reasongiving affects the behavior of officials, as well as the perceptions of fairness, trust, and legitimacy of regulated entities and the public. These experiments will serve as an important component of a larger study of reasoning and trust in the public sector.

Can the Attentional Boost Effect Mitigate Racial Bias?
Khena Swallow, Psychology
Amy Krosch, Psychology
Bohan Li, Psychology

Efforts to mitigate the effects of racial bias on attitudes and decision making suggest that individual racial attitudes are slow and difficult to change (Devine & Elliot, 1995). However, a recently described dual-task procedure that boosts memory and liking of scenes, items and faces may provide a new approach to reducing racial bias. In these studies, participants attend to and memorize a series of images while they monitor a second stream of unrelated stimuli for target items that require a behavioral response (e.g., they press a button whenever a ‘red square’ appears). In addition to enhancing memory for concurrently presented images, target detection increases the subjective liking of those images. This proposal describes three experiments this project investigates whether the effects of target detection on memory and liking extend to attitudes toward other races, including individuals that were explicitly paired with a target and individuals that have never been seen before. In addition to evaluating participants’ explicit and implicit racial attitudes, participants’ perception of faces from other races will be evaluated using a neurophysiological index of individuation (the extent to which people are seen as individuals versus members of their racial category). If target detection produces persistent, general effects on attitudes and perceptual processing of other races, this procedure may offer a new means of ameliorating racial bias.

How Housing and Labor Market Conditions Influence the Progression of Romantic Relationships
Laura Tach, Policy Analysis and Management
Sharon Sassler, Policy Analysis and Management

Low-income households spend a substantial fraction of their income on housing, a problem that is exacerbated by the limited availability of affordable housing and living-wage jobs in many metropolitan areas. It is more costly to live alone when housing is expensive. As a result, researchers have found that individuals are more likely to share living arrangements and less likely to live alone when housing costs are higher. Yet this body of research has not examined whether local economic and housing conditions shape the progression of romantic relationships. We propose to use restricted-use data from the National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG) to examine how housing market and labor market dynamics influence the likelihood and timing of cohabitation and marriage among women and their sexual partners. Using romantic relationship histories from the 2002, 2006-2010, 2011-2013, and 2013-2015 National Surveys of Family Growth, we will test whether women are more likely to enter into cohabitation, or do so more quickly, when housing costs are high and labor market conditions are weak. We will also explore heterogeneity in these dynamics by the socioeconomic status of the partners. Finally, we will ask whether the influence of local housing and labor market conditions on the progression of romantic relationships has strengthened over time as normative barriers to cohabitation have faded.

Embodying Social Inequality During a Time of War: A Bioarchaeological Study of Childhood Health in the Late Prehispanic Andes
Matthew Velasco, Anthropology

This study investigates how social and ethnic identity shaped health outcomes during a period of intensive conflict and ecological stress in the late prehispanic highland Andes (AD 1100-1450). This politically tumultuous era witnessed the proliferation of new ethnic groups, many of whom emblematized their social identities by permanently reshaping the skulls of their newborns—a practice known as cranial modification. Previous research by the PI in the Colca Valley (southern Peru) suggests that cranial modification conferred social benefits in adulthood, including reduced risk of violence, yet it is unclear if and how differential life experiences were molded in early childhood. The hypothesis that cranial modification marked select children with a privileged life experience will be tested through the analysis of 1) skeletal lesions that indicate childhood stress and 2) strontium isotope ratios in dental enamel that shed light on early childhood environment. Patterns in the prevalence, distribution, and severity of disease indicators will suggest whether individuals with modified heads were buffered from environmental and social stressors during childhood, such as malnutrition or exposure to pathogens. Strontium isotope ratios in dental enamel will determine if modified and unmodified individuals spent their childhood in different geographical regions, which could account for observed health differences. This pilot study represents the first phase of a larger comparative investigation into the health and lifeways of distinct socioeconomic segments of the Colca Valley population, to better understand how regional landscapes of health and disease structured persistent inequalities under the Inka and Spanish colonial regimes.

Restoring Credit: How people Understand and Interact with Credit Scoring Systems
Malte Ziewitz, Science and Technology Studies
Ranjit Singh, Science and Technology Studies

Recovering from a broken credit score can be an existential challenge. While credit bureaus, banks, and regulators tend to suggest that errors can be fixed and scores improved without the need for special expertise, especially low-income Americans and traditionally disadvantaged groups are struggling with a system that is widely seen to be opaque. A good indicator of this problem is the growth of commercial credit repair services, a fast-growing and controversial industry that charges individuals to assist with basic financial repair work. Yet, while there is growing awareness of the implications of credit scoring systems for social and economic inequality, little is known about how those who are concerned about their credit scores interpret and engage with them. How do ordinary users make sense of scoring systems that appear to be inscrutable? What kind of strategies and tactics do they use to remedy the situation? What is the role of tools and intermediaries, such as credit repair consultants, in this process? Drawing on work in science & technology studies (STS), sociology, and information science, this project will explore these questions through a longitudinal qualitative study of people’s credit repair practices. Tracing the credit repair journeys of a small number of people in Upstate New York, the project will contribute to a better understanding of the role of users in contemporary scoring systems, test and refine a novel methodology, and generate preliminary findings for future research and funding.