Multilayer Networks in Political Science: Development and Applications of Novel Methods to International Cooperation and Conflict

Open Access
Chen, Ted Hsuan
Graduate Program:
Political Science
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
June 13, 2019
Committee Members:
  • Bruce A Desmarais, Jr., Dissertation Advisor/Co-Advisor
  • Bruce A Desmarais, Jr., Committee Chair/Co-Chair
  • Xun Cao, Committee Member
  • Douglas William Lemke, Committee Member
  • Diane Helen Felmlee, Outside Member
  • multilayer networks
  • network analysis
  • international cooperation
  • informal diplomacy
  • transnational relations
Interactions between units in political systems often occur across multiple relational contexts. These relational systems feature interdependencies that result in inferential shortcomings and poorly-fitting models when ignored. Advancements in inferential network analysis have improved our ability to understand relational systems featuring interdependence, but developments specific to working with interdependence that cross relational contexts remain sparse. In my dissertation, I introduce a multilayer network approach to modeling systems comprising multiple relations using the exponential random graph model (ERGM). I demonstrate that the multilayer approach improves researchers' ability to better model social and political phenomena as they are intuitively understood, which results in models that more closely reflect observed reality. I apply the multilayer network approach to study two international systems in which interstate cooperation depends on the existence of nonstate actors and informal processes that are normally ignored in statistical studies of international politics. In both cases, I find substantial interdependence between patterns of cooperation among states and among nonstate actors. Together, the methodological and substantive components of my dissertation highlights the need to more carefully consider the impact of nonstate actors on international politics, and presents a way to do so.