Methodology & Formal Theory

Subfield Coordinator: Thad Dunning

The Berkeley program in empirical methodology and formal theory offers rigorous training that is carefully integrated with major sub­stantive agendas in political science.
The program builds centrally on innovative faculty research, which encompasses new methods for causal inference and pro­gram evaluation, as well as statistical computing and survey analysis. The work on surveys has included path-breaking contri­butions to developing and refining ex­periments embedded in surveys and computer-assisted telephone inter­view­ing; and innovations in measuring issue orientations and in multi-level modeling of political behavior.  In formal theory, faculty have contributed to opening new lines of inquiry into strategic interactions where formal institutions are weak, and to modeling information and incentives in organiza­tions—as they affect both the dynamics of institutions within the United States and those in authoritarian and democratizing regimes. Faculty in both tradi­tions play a promi­nent role in developing empirical tests of formal theory, based on both laboratory experiments and obser­va­tional data. The faculty has also done influential work on qua­litative meth­odology, compa­rative-historical methods, and linking qualitative methods with both quantitative tools and with formal analysis.

The methods/formal faculty makes important institutional contributions on the Berkeley campus. They convene the Positive Political Theory Seminar, which draws together a national consti­tuency of leading modelers for its biweekly meetings. They have led the campus Survey Research Center and helped to sustain its innovative research on survey methodo­logy; and they were central to launching the Berkeley’s NSF/IGERT training program in Politics, Economics, Psychology, and Public Policy (PEPPP). Berkeley’s Institute of Govern­mental Studies, as well as the Survey Research Center, are important venues for convening scholars and graduate students, and they provide support for graduate students pursuing methodological and formal training.
Faculty members also play leading roles in the national political science profession. Their contri­butions have included serving as Chair of the Board of the American National Elections Studies (ANES); providing crucial leadership in launching the NSF program on the Empirical Implications of Theoretical Models (EITM); co-editing the new Oxford Handbook of Political Methodology; serving as President of the Political Methodology Society; and founding APSA’s Organized Section for Qualitative and Multi-Method Research. The political science department maintains close ties with the national Institute for Qualitative/Multi-Method Research, and many graduate students attend the institute.  Three of the methods/formal faculty are Fellows of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Methodology & Formal Theory Directory

Name Research Interests Contact
Joel Middleton
Thad Dunning Political economy, ethnic politics, and comparative clientelism in developing countries; research design, causal inference, statistical methods, multi-method research
Henry Brady Electoral Politics & Political Participation, Management Information Systems, Program Evaluation, Social Welfare Policy
510 642-5116
David Collier Democracy and Authoritarianism, Latin America, Concept Analysis, Qualitative Methods, Multi-Method Research, Comparative Politics
510 642-8168
Ernesto Dal Bo Political Influence, Corruption, Social Conflict, Coercion, Morality
510 643-1606
Rui De Figueiredo Institutional Analysis/Formal Theory, Game Theory, Mathematical Modeling, American Bureaucratic Structure and Performance
510 642-6452
Sean Gailmard Game theory & formal political theory, Principal-agent theory, Bureaucratic politics & executive branch structure, American politics
510 642-4677
Jason Wittenberg Eastern Europe & the post-Soviet region, quantitative analysis, religion and politics, electoral analysis, ethnic conflict
510 642-8407
Robert Powell Mathematical Modeling, Rational Choice Theory, Game Theory, War, International Conflict, Weakly Institutionalized States, Deterrence
510 642-4635
Gerard Roland Comparative Economics, Economic Liberalization, Legislatures, Electoral Rules
510 642-4321
Jasjeet Sekhon Program Evaluation, Statistical and Computational Methods, Causal Inference, Elections, Public Opinion, American Politics
510 642-1624