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Paula Pickering

Richard S. Perles Professor of Government

Office: Chancellors 343, 757-221-3038
Links: [[pmpick, Email]] and {{, Webpage}}
Office Hours: Wednesday, 9:30 am -11:00 am; Thursday, 2:00 pm -3:30 pm and by appointment.

Research Interests

Politics of Eastern Europe; Civil Society; Post-Conflict Statebuilding

Paula Pickering is a Professor of Government at William & Mary.  Professor Pickering’s current, collaborative research focuses on the evolving nature of civic activism in the post-communist region and its impact on political and social outcomes.  Earlier collaborative projects include studies of the impact of aid for democratization on local communities in culturally diverse South Eastern Europe and the impact of information on electoral accountability in Uganda. Additional research interests include ethnic politics, particularly in the Balkans, and statebuilding and refugee politics in post-conflict states in Eurasia. Through her mentorship of the award-winning international community engagement project, The American-Bosnian Collaboration (ABC) Project, she also supports student-led, collaborative research assessing informal educational activities that promote inter-cultural communication skills.


Professor Pickering worked as an analyst on Eastern Europe and as a political officer in Turkmenistan for the State Department (1990-94). She has also served as a human rights officer for the Organization for Security in Cooperation in Europe in Bosnia-Herzegovina (1996) and as a volunteer for the Center for Non-violent Conflict Resolution in Nis, Serbia (1995). 


Ph.D. in Political Science, University of Michigan, 2001; B.A. in International Relations, Stanford University, 1989.


Central and East European Politics: Changes and Challenges, Fifth Edition. Edited by Cserg?, Zsuzsa, Daina S. Eglitis, and Paula M. Pickering. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2021.

 Peacebuilding in the Balkans: The View from the Ground Floor. Ithica: Cornell University Press, 2007.

Selected additional publications include:

"Individualized Text Messages about Public Services Fail to Sway Voters: Evidence from a Field Experiment on Ugandan Elections" with Ryan S. Jablonski, Mark T. Buntaine, and Daniel L. Nielson.  Journal of Experimental Political Science (2021): 1–13. DOI:10.1017/XPS.2021.15.

"Voter information campaigns and political accountability: Cumulative findings from a preregistered meta-analysis of coordinated trials" with T. Dunning (lead author), G. Grossman, M. Humphreys, S. Hyde, C. McIntosh, G. Nellis, C. L. Adida, E. Arias, C. Bicalho, T.C. Boas, M. T. Buntaine, S. Chauchard, A. Chowdhury, J. Gottlieb, F.D. Hidalgo, M. Holmlund, R. Jablonski, E. Kramon, H. Larreguy, M. Lierl, J. Marshall, G. McClendon, M. A. Melo, D. L. Nielson, M. R. Platas, P. Querubín, P. Raffler, N. Sircar. Science Advances 5, eaaw2612 (2019): 1–10. DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aaw2612.

"Budgets, SMS Texts, and Votes in Ugand" with Mark Buntaine, Sarah Bush, Ryan Jablonski, and Dan Nielson, Chapter. In Information, Accountability, and Cumulative Learning: Lessons from Metaketa I, edited by Thad Dunning, Guy Grossman, Macartan Humphreys, Susan Hyde, and Craig McIntosh. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2019. 188–220.

"SMS Texts on Corruption Help Ugandan Voters Hold Elected Councillors Accountable at the Polls" with Mark T. Buntaine, Ryan Jablonski, and Dan L. Nielson. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2018).

"Making Local Government Work Better: How local and internationally sponsored institutions interact to influence performance in Bosnia-Herzegovina" with Mirna Jusi?. Governance 31 (2018): 665–682.

"Public Scepticism of Civil Society Organizations:  norms, citizen priorities, and local groups in post-socialist Serbia" with Sla?ana Dankovi?. East European Politics 33, no. 2 (2017): 210–232.

"Local governance in Bosnia: addressing both ethno-nationally and locally defined interests?" In Yana Hashamova and Theodora Dragostinova, eds., Beyond Mosque, Church, and State: Alternative Narratives of the Nation. Budapest: Central European University Press, 2016. 287–311.

"Explaining the Varying Impact of International Aid for Local Democratic Governance in Bosnia-Herzegovina." Problems of Post-Communism 59, no. 1 (2012): 30–43.

"Assessing International Efforts to Promote Good Local Governance in the Western Balkans." Democratization 17 (2010): 1021–1046.

"Back from the Brink: Explaining political moderation after inter-ethnic violence in the Balkans." Europe-Asia Studies 61, no. 4 (2009): 565–591.

"What is to Be Done? Succession from the League of Communists of Croatia" with Mark Baskin. In Communist and Post-Communist Studies, Special Issue on Comparative Perspectives on Communist Party Successor Parties of Central and Eastern Europe, 41/2 (2008): 1–20.

"Generating Bridging Social Capital in the Balkans" in Ethnic and Racial Studies. 29/1 (2006).


GOVT 150: War and Peace in the Balkans 

GOVT 335: Politics of Central Europe

Govt 333: The Bosnia Project (international community-engagement course) (COLL 300)

Govt 203: Introduction to Comparative Politics

Govt 334: Russian/Post-Soviet Politics

Govt 403: Sources of and Remedies for Conflict in Eurasia

Fellowships and Grants

Recent fellowships include: 

Poland’s National Science Centre, Harmonia 10, grant for “21st Century Civil Society in Central and Eastern Europe: 30 Years After” foreign partner with Dorota Pietrzyk-Reeves, Patrice McMahon, and Lisa M. Sundstrom.

Evidence in Governance and Politics regranting initiative for “Repairing Information Underload: The Effects on Vote Choice of Information Regarding Politician Performance,” 2015, with Mark Buntaine, Sarah Bush, Ryan Jablonski, and Dan Nielson.

Charles Center, College of William and Mary, “Funding for courses with significant off-campus components,” spring 2016 for The Bosnia Project course.

Weingartner Associate Professor of International Studies, August 2011-May 2013

Fellowships supporting earlier research include those from the International Research and Exchanges Board (2007-8), the National Council of Eurasian and East European Research (2009-11, 2006), the Woodrow Wilson Center (2005), the US Institute of Peace (2000), the Social Science Research Council (1999), and Fulbright-Hays (1999).