Kathleen Bawn studies political parties, focusing on roles they play in stabilizing coalitions and organizing politics.
She has also studied electoral systems, as well as policymaking by the U.S. Congress, coalition governments in Germany and in parliamentary systems in general. Specific projects early in her career looked at the incentives generated by mixed PR/plurality electoral systems, how Congress trades-off expertise versus political control when delegating to agencies, and trades off ex ante procedures versus ex post oversight in exerting political control. She has also studied the party politics of government spending, and ideology as a manifestation of coalition politics. Her current work (with Marty Cohen, David Karol, Seth Masket and Hans Noel, and with John Zaller) argues that parties in the United States are best thought of as coalitions of policy-demanding groups whose strongest leverage comes at the stage when candidates seek party nominations. Her work has been published in American Journal of Political Science, American Political Science Review, British Journal of Political Science, Perspectives on Politics, and other academic journals.
Professor Bawn’s courses emphasize the use of mathematical models and logic to understand politics. She has recently developed on-line and hybrid versions of her popular undergraduate game theory class. Other regular classes cover probability and statistics for political science, collective choice theory, and political parties.