Korhan Koçak

Postdoctoral Associate

New York University

I am a postdoctoral associate in the Department of Politics at New York University. I obtained my PhD in 2020 from Princeton University. Starting Fall 2021 I will be an Assistant Professor of Political Science at NYU Abu Dhabi.

I use formal theory and empirical methods to study how the political environment interacts with individual differences in preferences and beliefs in shaping public opinion, voting behavior, and political participation.


Launching Revolution: Social Media and the Egyptian Uprising's First Movers

Drawing on evidence from the 2011 Egyptian uprising, we demonstrate how the use of two social media platforms–Facebook and Twitter–contributed to a discrete mobilizational outcome: the staging of a successful first protest in a revolutionary cascade, or, what we call “first mover mobilization.” Specifically, we argue that these two platforms facilitated the staging of a large, nationwide, and seemingly leaderless protest on January 25, 2011, which signaled to hesitant but sympathetic Egyptians that a revolution might be in the making. Using qualitative and quantitative evidence, including interviews, social media data, and surveys, we analyze three mechanisms that linked these platforms to the success of the January 25 protest: 1) protester recruitment, 2) protest planning and coordination, and 3) live updating about protest logistics. The paper not only contributes to debates about the role of the Internet in the Arab Spring and other recent waves of mobilization, but also demonstrates how scholarship on the Internet in politics might move toward making more discrete, empirically grounded causal claims.

Is Bigger Always Better? How Targeting Aid Windfalls Affects Capture and Social Cohesion

A central challenge in development involves ensuring that aid reaches those in greatest need. Aid agencies typically try to achieve this by targeting aid to vulnerable individuals or groups. Despite the prevalence of targeting, we know little about its effects on distributional outcomes and social cohesion in communities where some are intended to benefit and others are excluded. We investigate this by formalizing targeting as a bargaining game with coalition formation involving three players—the target group, the elite, and an excluded group. Our approach yields the counter-intuitive insight that the target group will actually benefit more in communities where elites and the excluded group compete to capture aid. We provide support for predictions using a regression discontinuity design and original survey data from an aid program implemented in Aceh, Indonesia. This article demonstrates the importance of understanding the role of community dynamics in shaping the economic and social outcomes of targeted aid programs.