Focus areas: Political economy, American politics, organizational design, bureaucracy, elections 

Michael Ting's primary research interest is in formal models of political institutions, with an emphasis on bureaucracy, elections and legislatures. Currently, he is pursuing projects including the relationship between institutions and distributive politics, election endorsements and the regulation of pharmaceuticals.

Professor Ting received his BS from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, his MA from Harvard University and his PhD in political economics from the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Prior to joining the Department of Political Science and SIPA, he taught at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Recent publications include:

  • "Distributive Politics with Primaries," with James Snyder and Shigeo Hirano in the Journal of Politics (2009)
  • "Whistleblowing," in the American Political Science Review (2008)
  • "Regulatory Errors with Endogenous Agendas," with Daniel Carpenter in the American Journal of Political Science (2007)
  • "Roll Calls, Party Labels, and Elections," with James Snyder in Political Analysis (2003)
  • "Bargaining in Bicameral Legislatures: When and Why Does Malapportionment Matter?" with Stephen Ansolabehere and James Snyder in American Political Science Review (2003)
  • "Recovering Behavioralism: Adaptively Rational Behavior with Endogenous Aspirations," with Jonathan Bendor and Daniel Diermeier in Computational Models in Political Economy (2003).

Research & Publications

September 2016|Political Science Research and Methods|Michael Ting, Jonathan Bendor, Daniel Diermeier
October 2012|American Political Science Review |Michael Ting

This paper develops a theory of bureaucratic inuence on distributive politics. While there exists a rich literature on the effects of institutions such as presidents, electoral systems, and bicameralism on government spending, the role of professional bureaucrats has yet to receive formal scrutiny. In the model, legislators bargain over the allocation of distributive benefits across districts. The legislature may either "politicize" a program by bargaining directly over pork and bypassing bureaucratic scrutiny, or "professionalize" it by letting a bureaucrat approve or reject project funding in each district according to an underlying quality standard. The model predicts that the legislature will professionalize when the expected program quality is high. However, politicization becomes more likely as the number of high quality projects increases, and under divided government. Further, more competent bureaucrats can encourage politicization if the expected program quality is low. Finally, politicized programs are larger than professionalized programs.

October 2011|Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization |Michael Ting

Organizational capacity is critical to the effective implementation of policy. Consequently, strategic legislators and bureaucrats must take capacity into account in designing programs. This article develops a theory of endogenous organizational capacity. Capacity is modeled as an investment that affects a policy's subsequent quality or implementation level. The agency has an advantage in providing capacity investments and may therefore constrain the legislature's policy choices. A key variable is whether investments can be “targeted” toward specific policies. If it cannot, then implementation levels decrease with the divergence in the players’ ideal points and policy-making authority may be delegated to encourage investment. If investment can be targeted, then implementation levels increase with the divergence of ideal points if the agency is sufficiently professionalized, and no delegation occurs. In this case, the agency captures more benefits from its investment, and capacity is higher. The agency therefore prefers policy-specific technology.

October 2011|American Journal of Political Science |Michael Ting, James M. Snyder

We develop a model of intraparty candidate selection under partisan electoral competition and voter uncertainty. Candidates for office belong to parties, which are factions of ideologically similar candidates. Each party’s candidate for a general election can be selected either by a “centralized” mechanism that effectively randomizes over possible candidates or by voters in a primary election. The electorate cares about ideology and valence, and both primary and general elections may reveal candidate valences. Our main theoretical result is that while primaries raise the expected quality of a party’s candidates, they may hurt the ex ante preferred party in a competitive electorate by increasing the chances of revealing the opposing party’s candidates as superior. Thus, primaries are adopted in relatively extreme districts where a clear favorite party exists. An empirical analysis of the adoption of direct primaries and the competitiveness of primary elections across U.S. states supports these predictions.