My research studies the impact of international actors and processes on politics, ranging from the macro-level (interstate conflict, trade disputes, civil war) to the micro-level. My main interests in political methodology are Bayesian approaches to multilevel structures, and data visualization. Please e-mail me for a copy of my full research statement.

My Google Scholar profile is here.

Journal articles
Forthcoming work
Work in progress


Karreth, Johannes. 2018. "The Economic Leverage of International Organizations in Interstate Disputes." International Interactions 44 (3): pp-pp.
How can IGOs help states resolve disputes and prevent them from using military force? How can they do this especially when states expressed disagreements and are descending into a conflictual trajectory without actively using IGO features targeting conflict resolution? I show that specifically IGOs with high economic leverage over their member states shape state behavior during interstate disputes and substantially lower the risk that such political disputes escalate to armed conflicts.

Karreth, Johannes, Shane P. Singh, and Szymon M. Stojek. 2015. "Explaining Attitudes toward Immigration: The Role of Regional Context and Individual Predispositions." West European Politics 38 (6): 1174-1202.
Migration neither increases hostility nor tolerance toward immigrants uniformly. How people in Western Europe respond to increasing diversity through migration depends on their ideological predispositions. Measuring migration and diversity at the regional level in Austria, Germany, and Switzerland shows the importance of capturing the relevant context when testing arguments about individuals' exposure to trends and resulting policy attitudes.

Sullivan, Patricia and Johannes Karreth. 2015. "The Conditional Impact of Military Intervention on Internal Armed Conflict Outcomes." Conflict Management and Peace Science 32 (3): 269-288.
Contrary to previous arguments, interventions on behalf of governments (and also rebels) in civil conflicts are not ineffective (or effective) across the board. How much they affect the odds of conflict victory of their supported target depends on whether that target's primary challenge is a lack of conventional war-fighting capacity.

Karreth, Johannes and Jaroslav Tir. 2013. "International Institutions and Civil War Prevention." Journal of Politics 75 (1): 96-109.
Even though they are typically associated with more peaceful relations between states, IGOs also contribute to preventing violent political conflict within countries. IGOs with central formal structures provide positive and negative incentives to conflict parties to refrain from escalating political violence.

Karreth, Johannes, Jonathan Polk, and Christopher Allen. 2013. "Catchall or Catch and Release? The Electoral Consequences of Social Democratic Parties' March to the Middle in Western Europe." Comparative Political Studies 46 (7), 791-822.
Political scientists and party strategists alike have argued that a winning strategy for major parties in electoral democracies is to move toward the center to increase their vote share. We show that when considered at the individual voters' level and over time, moving toward the center changes the composition of Social Democratic voters toward less attached voters, and it leads to a loss of former core voters. In the long run, moving to the center does not promise lasting electoral gains for these parties.

Stinnett, Douglas, Bryan Early, Cale Horne, and Johannes Karreth. 2011. "Complying by Denying: Explaining Why States Develop Nonproliferation Export Controls." International Studies Perspectives 12 (3), 308-326.
UN Security Council Resolution 1540 created a binding obligation for all UN member states to prevent the spread of weapons of mass destruction. Addressing the question whether compliance with this piece of international law is influenced most by a state's economic and governmental capacities and has little to do with interest-based factors.


Karreth, Johannes and Jaroslav Tir. "International Agreement Design and the Moderating Role of Domestic Bureaucratic Quality: The Case of Freshwater Cooperation." Forthcoming in the Journal of Peace Research.
The international community has relied on institutionalizing cooperative arrangements over freshwater resources to prevent interstate violence over water. Questioning the underlying assumption, we show that the cooperation-inducing effect of international institutions is conditional on the quality of domestic bureaucracies. Strong domestic bureaucracies are central to achieving meaningful international cooperation over freshwater resources.

Tir, Jaroslav and Johannes Karreth. 2018. Incentivizing Peace: How International Organizations Can Help Prevent Civil Wars in Member Countries. Forthcoming at Oxford University Press, Spring 2018.
Civil wars are among the most difficult problems in world politics. While mediation, intervention, and peacekeeping have produced some positive results in helping to end civil wars, they fall short in preventing them in the first place. In Incentivizing Peace, we show that considering civil wars from a developmental perspective presents opportunities to prevent the escalation of nascent armed conflicts into full-scale civil wars. We demonstrate that highly-structured intergovernmental organizations (IGOs such as the World Bank, IMF, or regional development banks) are particularly well-positioned to engage in civil war prevention. When such IGOs have been actively engaged in nations on the edge, their potent economic tools have helped to steer rebel-government interactions away from escalation and toward peaceful settlement. Incentivizing Peace provides enlightening case evidence that IGO participation is a key to better predicting, and thus preventing, the outbreak of civil war.


Explaining voter responses to mainstream parties' moderation strategies (with Jonathan Polk). To what extent does moderation in ideological positioning by mainstream parties affect their short and long-term electoral fortunes? Previous research suggests that social democratic parties received an influx of centrist voters post-moderation, but that these new centrist voters were less attached to the party and left in later elections, as did left-leaning social democrats frustrated by moderation strategies. This project further probes whether there is a link between moderation and individual voters' shifts to and from mainstream parties at a later point. We examine individual-level data on voting behavior combined with information on mainstream parties' ideological shifts in several dozens of elections in up to 16 countries over several decades. Preliminary findings clearly show that (a) moderation can have detrimental consequences in the longer term; (b) the consequences of moderation differ across major left and right parties; and (c) core and fickle voters respond differently to moderation strategies, with additional differences across the left-right and social dimensions of electoral competition. (CERGU Working Paper 2017:4)

Multilateral trade agreements and defendant behavior in WTO trade disputes. A central debate in international relations asks whether an expanding menu of choices between international institutions makes cooperation within existing institutions more or less likely. This study examines this question in the context of international trade disputes. It shows that overlapping trade institutions shape outcomes of trade disputes within the dispute settlement system of the GATT/WTO. The growth of institutions with certain configurations can therefore foster cooperation in the context of international trade; regional trade agreements are more likely to be stepping stones rather than stumbling blocks in this issue area. (Under revision; much earlier version presented at PEIO VI)

Territorial threat and democratic regime reversals (with Jaroslav Tir and Doug Gibler). Why do some democracies revert to non-democratic forms of governance? We develop an explanation of democratic reversals that emphasizes the role of states' border relations for domestic politics. Territorial threats encourage political centralization of authority in the executive to defend against threats to the homeland and the construction and maintenance of large land armies to defend against and/or fight the threatening neighbor. Combined, these changes increase leaders' domestic power, weaken democratic institutions, encourage other conditions threatening democratic survival, and, ultimately, lead to democratic reversals. Our argument finds strong support in an empirical test using a new measure of latent territorial threat on the relevant population of countries, all democracies with contiguous neighbors, from 1946-2012. (Under revision; earlier version posted on Doug Gibler's website)

Effects of counterinsurgency strategies on post-civil war human rights practices (with Patricia Sullivan). Civilian populations suffer in all domestic armed conflicts, but some governments protect human rights more than others once conflicts have ended. This project explores the legacy of insurgents' and counterinsurgents' strategies during civil wars for human rights practices after conflicts end. (Under review)

Public demand for education policy in advanced economies. Governments of advanced open economies in particular have incentives to invest in human capital formation to maintain competitiveness. Yet, demand for public investment in education policy varies substantially between publics in different OECD countries. Examining this variation, this project probes how political institutions can sustain support for public goods provision even under otherwise difficult conditions. (Under revision)

Manuscripts not linked here are currently under review or revision; please e-mail me for drafts.