William Bianco

I am Professor of Political Science at Indiana University – Bloomington. The first is an extension of research on the politics of US-Russia space cooperation conducted while I was a Fulbright Senior Scholar in Russia. The focus of this new work is on “selling science,” or how scientific agencies such as NASA persuade elected officials and the public to fund basic research, given that returns on this investment will take years or decades to materialize—if they ever do. Our current NSF-funded research aims at understanding how agencies evaluate research proposals or work in progress, with the goal of improving measures of scientific innovation. 

My second research program extends my work on the US Congress to understand legislative decision-making in other contexts. This work focuses on linking party systems, majority rule, and policy outcomes with an analytic tool known as the uncovered set. Most recently, I am coauthor with Regina Smyth and Kwon Nok Chan on a forthcoming JOP paper uses the case of the Hong Kong Legislative Council to analyze how an electoral authoritarian regime uses legislative rules to maintain control over policy outcomes while preserving (relatively) free and fair elections. 

 While my intellectual foundations are firmly in rational choice, my research has always drawn on and been in dialogue with theories, insights, and findings from other approaches in our discipline. Most notably, some of my earlier work identified areas of commonality between game-theoretic and psychology-based models of decision-making. My research routinely draws on a variety of methods, including experiments, statistical techniques, and participant-observation fieldwork. For example, my analysis of ISS operations (funded by the National Council for Eurasian and Eastern European Research) involved fieldwork in Russia, Kazakhstan, and the US, and my book on trust was based in part on nearly one hundred interviews with members of Congress. 

At IU I teach undergraduate classes in American Politics (including Congress, Presidency, and Introduction to America Government), Statistics, and Game Theory, and and graduate classes in Legislative Politics, American Institutions, and Game Theory. I've also coauthored a textbook, American Politics Today.

I've been a PI or co-PI on six National Science Foundation Grants (including two Dissertation Improvement Grants), a grant from the National Council for Eurasian and Eastern European Research, and various internal university grants.  I've also been a member of the NSF Political Science Panel and am currently on the Editorial Board of American Journal of Political Science.