While patronage networks and neopatrimonial authority are often synonymous with corruption and nepotism, Jacob’s research highlights the integrative and capacity-building aspects of traditional politics in the absence of strong modern institutions.
A former aid worker in North Korea, Jacob's research interests have evolved over his two decades of experience in East Asia.
Jacob’s dissertation identified a new mode of patronage in South Korean political parties which reestablished ties between national and regional legislators that had been severed by anti-corruption reforms.
As a post-doctoral research fellow in Taiwan, he is currently studying the rewiring of local patronage ties following significant reductions in local party organization, particularly since the 2014 Sunflower Movement.
A well-rounded methodologist, Jacob blends ethnography and media content analysis with statistical and social network analysis in a creative, mixed-methods approach to comparative political sociology.