Coase Best Dissertation Award for thesis on Gang Governance in Rio de Janeiro

By Nan Jia

The Ronald H. Coase Best Dissertation Award is handed out annualy for the best doctoral dissertation in institutional and organizational economics. During SIOE's recent conference in Montreal (June 21-23), Nicholas Barnes was awarded the award for his dissertation “Monopolies of Violence: Gang Governance in Rio de Janeiro."

This work aims to understand different governing institutions implemented by various drug trafficking gangs in Rio de Janeiro to regulate their relationships with favela communities. Nick conducted three years of multi-method fieldwork in Rio de Janeiro. He lived for 18 months in Complexo da Maré, an area in which three gang organizations vie for territorial control, carrying out participant observation activities, archival research, and conducting 175 semi-structured interviews. He supplemented these qualitative methods with a dataset of geo-located anonymous hotline denunciations of local gangs by residents.

The Coase Dissertation Award Committee provided the following compliments on Nick's dissertation: "What a great book on criminal gangs he has put together! In this context, the thesis deals with determinants and consequences of the competition between states and non-states actors. The thesis is enormously impressive — from the sheer quantity of work involved including extensive field work to the integrated treatment of many aspects of the gangs (including heterogeneity across gangs). The topic is important: these gangs will be in the favelas for quite some time to come."

Nick got his PhD in Political Science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2017 and is working as Postdoctoral Fellow at the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs at Brown University.

Picture: Nick Barnes (center) with SIOE President Bentley MacLeod and President-Elect Francine Lafontaine