Professor Reno's research, teaching, service and community engagements focus on understanding the causes of political violence, comparisons of political violence in Africa with political violence elsewhere, the organization and behavior of insurgent groups, and the politics of authoritarian regimes.
Reno collects data through field research, and consultation of primary documents, and critical readings of secondary sources. His analytical method includes the comparison of case studies, chosen to maximize controls of particular variables in efforts to identify strong causal links. Blending an observational approach from the traditions of area studies with qualitative analytical models in the field of Comparative Politics, he participates in a conversation with anthropology and sociology about how to conduct ethical and analytically rewarding research in politically unstable environments.
Reno also participates in broad analytical debates about the nature of corruption and coercion and their roles in the development of political institutions and the changing nature of contemporary insurgencies.