Masaaki Higashijima (PhD 2015, Michigan State) is Associate Professor of Political Science in the Graduate School of Information Sciences at Tohoku University (Sendai, Japan). Before coming to Tohoku, he was Assistant Professor in the Institute for Advanced Study at Waseda University and also Post-Doctoral Max Weber Fellow at European University Institute. His primary interests lie in comparative political economy, authoritarian politics, democratization, civil conflict, ethnic politics, developing countries, Central Asia, and political methodology.
In his book project, he analyzes authoritarian elections by combining cross-national statistical analyses with case studies of Central Asian countries. Specifically, he sheds light on a dilemma that dictators face at the ballot box: manipulated elections do not provide useful information feedback to dictators, yet excessive electoral reforms make it difficult for dictators to score overwhelming victories. Centering on this electoral dilemma and distribution of power between the dictator and other political elites, his theory and empirical analysis illuminate the logic of election fraud, electoral system choice, political business cycles, and post-electoral conflicts in dictatorships.
His research has been funded by numerous research grants including the US National Science Foundation Dissertation Improvement Grant and Fulbright Fellowship. The core chapter in his dissertation was awarded the 2014 International IDEA/EIP Award and also nominated for the 2013 Westview Press Award at Midwest Political Science Association. Another chapter is forthcoming in Contentious Elections: From Ballots to Barricades edited by Pippa Norris and her colleagues. Other work has been published or is forthcoming in such journals as British Journal of Political Science, the Journal of Politics, Political Behavior, Studies in Comparative International Development, and World Development. He was working as a research consultant at the World Bank in 2012-2013.
At MSU and Waseda, he has taught undergraduate courses such as Introduction to Political Science, Government and Politics of the World, and Comparative Democratization.