Shahryar Minhas bio photo

Shahryar Minhas

Assistant Professor, Michigan State University

Email Github

Revise and Resubmit

Revise and Resubmit


  • When Do States Say Uncle? Network Dependence and Sanction Compliance – with Cassy Dorff.
    • In this article we address the long-debated question of when and why states comply with sanctions. While the literature remains indeterminate as to whether the key mechanisms driving sanction compliance are tied to interstate relations, intrastate constraints, or a dynamic combination of the two, our theoretical framework and methodological approach provides a novel perspective that incorporates insights drawn from network theory to explain the time until countries comply. Specifically, we argue that reciprocity, a concept with deep roots in both network theory and international relations, has largely been overlooked in the study of sanction compliance. Though ignored this concept captures an essential aspect of how cooperation is fostered in the international system, and allows us to better capture the strategic environment underlying sanctioning behavior. Given the theoretical importance of reciprocity in understanding interstate relations, we provide an approach that integrates estimations of this type of network interdependency into extant frameworks for empirically estimating the time until countries comply with sanctions. Our results highlight that not only does reciprocity have a substantive effect in explaining the duration of sanctions, but that models excluding this concept from their specifications do notably worse in terms of their predictive performance.

Select Papers Under Review or In Process


  • Contingent Institutions: The Reputational Impact of Investor-State Disputes – with Karen L. Remmer.
    • To what extent do alleged violations of international commitments damage state reputation? This paper explores this question with specific reference to investor-state disputes arising under the protection of international investment agreements. Existing theory assumes that institutionalization of international commitments raises the ex post costs of defection, including reputational damage, thereby creating strong incentives for state compliance. We modify this expectation by arguing that the reputational consequences of treaty violations are contingent on institutional rules and information flows. Drawing on a replication of prior research linking investor-state disputes with reduced FDI as well as an original analysis of their impact on investment reputation, we show that the impact of investor-state disputes has been relatively marginal over the 1987-2011 time period, with reputational effects only beginning to materialize in recent years. This temporal variation reflects changes in the rules governing the transparency of international arbitral tribunals as well as expanded media coverage of investment disputes. The central implication of these findings for the broader body of literature on international institutions is that reputational mechanisms for effective treaty enforcement cannot be taken as given but are heavily contingent on institutional design and associated information costs.


  • Strategic Drivers of Foreign Aid – with Cindy Cheng.
    • In recent years, numerous studies have sought to explain the strategic and political motivations that direct foreign aid flows (e.g., Alesina and Dollar 2000; Werker 2012). To that end, scholars have tested many monadic and dyadic level hypotheses have done so using widely inconsistent measures of "strategic interest". Moreover all the extant literature analyzes aid flows in a dyadic context where the assumption is that the flow of aid between any particular dyad is independent of any other. However, scholars are well aware of potential dependence in foreign aid allocations. Some scholars hypothesize for example that donors exhibit herding (Frot and Santiso 2011) or "lead donorship behavior" (Steinwand 2014) wherein donor countries are dissuaded from giving aid to a country that already has a major donor. This is also empirically problematic as failing to account for interdependencies leads to biased coefficients and standard errors. To explicitly incorporate these interdependencies, we used a mixed hierarchical model with random effects. In doing so we are able to shed new light onto the political and strategic considerations underlying the distribution of foreign aid in the international system.


  • Diffusion of Antitrust Laws in Open Economies – with Tim Büthe.
    • Antitrust law seeks to prevent the accumulation and abuse of market power by prohibiting cartels, bid-rigging, and similar anticompetitive behavior. A deliberately pro-market policy, antitrust has been shown to result in lower prices, more innovation, and greater efficiency. Antitrust enforcement, however, is inherently political - and has the potential for abuse - in that it entails the use of state power to constrain and possibly redistribute private economic power. Until 1990, antitrust was virtually entirely the domain of advanced capitalist democracies with strong rule-of-law traditions and professional public bureaucracies. Since then, the number of jurisdictions with antitrust laws has grown rapidly, from some thirty to more than one-hundred-and-thirty today. Most of the existing literature on this strikingly rapid diffusion has focused on the domestic conditions that are conducive to the adoption of such laws, such as political and economic liberalization. Even the few papers that consider factors such as international trade or World Bank advocacy of antitrust law adoption, model the enactment of antitrust laws as an independent decision for each country. Such models fail to capture causally important aspects of the way in which antitrust has diffused through the international political-economic system due to interdependencies in state decision-making. To analyze the global diffusion of antitrust empirically, we use an original dataset on not only when states adopted antitrust laws but also their content. This allows us to assess various mechanisms through which antitrust provisions diffuse across borders using an event history framework with spatial lags.


  • Mapping Agendas: Improved Text Analysis and Applications to Congressional Rhetoric – with Andrew Ballard & Josh Lerner.
    • Applications of Latent Dirichlet Allocation (LDA) in political science rarely leverage information from the full posterior topic mixture distributions underlying the generation of documents in a corpus. Rather much of the extant literature employing this approach simply focuses on the maximal probability topic for every document. We present an approach to help solve this problem, and validate our method via an exploration of Congressional rhetoric and its relationship to party power. Congressional rhetoric -- the content of floor speeches -- is a clear manifestation of well-studied concepts such as party organization and agenda setting, yet remains largely understudied. Based on the text of speeches from the 104th through 109th Congresses, we use LDA to model speech content, and create a Euclidean space for speeches in Congress via a Principal Components Analysis (PCA). We then predict 1) the amount of money given to a candidate by their party committee and 2) prestige committee appointment based on how much their floor speeches resemble those of the rest of their party. Consistent with findings in American politics, we show that speaking like the rest of one's party is associated with receiving more party goods.


  • Fast and Easy Imputation of Missing Social Science Data – with Florian M. Hollenbach, Nils W. Metternich, and Michael D. Ward.
    • Gold-standard approaches to missing data imputation are complicated and computationally expensive. We present a principled solution to this situation, developed by (Hoff 2007), using copula distributions from which missing data may be quickly drawn. We compare this approach to other imputation techniques and show that it performs at least as well as less computationally efficient approaches. Our results demonstrate that most applied researchers can achieve great speed improvements implementing copula-based imputation, while still maintaining the performance of other approaches to multiple imputation. Moreover, this approach can be easily implemented at the point of need in Bayesian analyses.

  • Splitting it up: A split-duration package – with Andreas Beger, Daniel W. Hill, Daina Chiba, Nils Metternich, and Michael D. Ward.
    • In this paper, we present a split-population R package and an application to data on military coups. The statistical model accounts for units that are immune to a certain outcome and not part of the duration process the researcher is primarily interested in. We provide insights that if immune units exist, we can significantly increase the predictive performance compared to standard duration model. The package includes estimation and forecasting methods for split-population Weibull and Loglogistic Models.

  • Tensor Based Approach to Understanding Codependence in Relational Data – with Peter D. Hoff and Michael D. Ward.

  • Rank Likelihood Approach for Exploring Dependencies in Longitudional Networks – with Peter D. Hoff and Michael D. Ward.