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Kristen Kao


Sprängkullsgatan 19
41123 Göteborg
Box 711
40530 Göteborg

Om Kristen Kao

Kristen Kao is a Senior Research Fellow with the Program on Governance and Local Development (GLD) at the University of Gothenburg. She first traveled to the Middle East on a Fulbright grant to Egypt in 2006. Since then, she has spent summers in Oman, Syria, Tunisia, and Kuwait culminating in more than three years of fieldwork in Jordan. She has served as a program consultant and election monitor for a variety of international organizations including The Carter Center, Freedom House, and the National Democratic Institute. In 2014, she ran a nationwide survey in Jordan in collaboration with Ellen Lust and Lindsay Benstead funded by the GLD program at Yale.

Her dissertation research investigates the effects of electoral institutions on tribal voting behavior, ethnic clientelism, and authoritarian rule in the Middle East. This research has important implications for policymakers and democracy promotion programs, shifting the focus from what authoritarian elections do at the national level to how differing electoral institutions shape citizen-state linkages at the sub-national level.

Kristen’s broader research interests include the study of vote buying and clientelism, social identity politics, survey methodology, experimental design, politics of the Middle East and North Africa region, traditional governance, and voter behavior. Her research has received funding from the Swedish Research Council, the National Science Foundation, the Social Science Research Council, the American Center of Oriental Research, the National Security Education Program, and the Project on Middle East Political Science, among others. With the GLD program at the University of Gothenburg Kristen helps manage the fielding of surveys, including one carried out in Malawi (N=7,500) in 2016 and three others in Kenya, Zambia, and Malawi in 2019 (N=25,000), as well as organize and analyze the resulting data for publication in reports and academic papers. Her upcoming funded research agenda focuses on the integration of forced migrants in Turkey, Jordan, and Sweden. She has published in Comparative Politics and Survey Practice.

Please see her CV for more information.