29 Apr

Podcast: Security Cooperation in the Global North and Russia’s War against Ukraine

For the latest edition of The Bulletin Podcast I was invited to talk about Russia’s war against Ukraine and its implications for security cooperation in the global north. Thanks to Smriti Rai and Jesus Renzullo for their probing questions and the constructive conversation! The Bulletin Podcast is a blog and podcast series run by the Willy Brandt School of Public Policy at the University of Erfurt. In 2018, I already had the pleasure to contribute to its inaugural session, when I was Interim Franz Haniel Professor of Public Policy at the University of Erfurt (the 2018 session can be accessed here).

14 Apr

Guest Talk at West Point

On April 13, 2022 I gave a virtual guest talk on “QCA in International Security” at the Social Science Research Lab, Department of Social Sciences of the United States Military Academy at West Point. In recent years, QCA has seen an increasing number of empirical applications on security-related topics, and IR research at large. In my talk, I gave a concise introduction to the method and its application in the field, outlined the structure of my QCA textbook, and provided an illustration of how QCA has been used to analyze coalition defection in the Iraq War. Thanks to Jordan Becker, Director of the Social Science Research Lab, and his colleagues for the invitation and the fruitful discussion after the talk!

04 Apr

Open Access Article Published in Contemporary Security Policy

Contemporary Security Policy published our open access article “The Unintended Consequences of UN Sanctions: A Qualitative Comparative Analysis” (with Katharina L. Meissner, Centre for European Integration Research, University of Vienna). The article examines the flip-side to sanctions, namely their unintended consequences. Empirically, we draw on data from the Targeted Sanctions Consortium to conduct a set-theoretic analysis. We complement the QCA part with case illustrations on Haiti and North Korea.

Abstract: Sanctions are widely used foreign policy tools in reaction to crises in world politics. Accordingly, literature on sanction effectiveness—their intended consequences—is abundant. Yet, fewer studies address the unintended consequences of restrictive measures. This is remarkable given that negative externalities are well documented. Our article explores this phenomenon by asking under which conditions sanctions yield negative externalities. We develop a theoretical conceptualization and explanatory framework for studying the unintended consequences of UN sanctions. Empirically, we draw on data from the rich, but scarcely used Targeted Sanctions Consortium and apply qualitative comparative analysis (QCA) to examine negative externalities of UN sanctions, complemented by illustrations from the cases Haiti and North Korea. The results document the existence of multiple pathways toward unintended consequences, highlighting the negative impact of comprehensive and long-lasting sanctions, as well as the ability of autocratic targets with economic means to persist unscathed from sanctions.

03 Apr

YouTube Book Summary

The COMPASSS Network made some material from the last QCA Expert Workshop at ETH Zurich available on YouTube. This includes a 20-minute summary and some Q&A on my book Qualitative Comparative Analysis: An Introduction to Research Design and Application (Georgetown UP, 2021). This part starts in minute 12 of the recorded session (see the video link below).

02 Apr

Annual Convention of the International Studies Association (ISA)

From March 28 to April 2, 2022, the Annual Convention of the International Studies Association (ISA) took place in Nashville, Tennessee, USA. I participated virtually, serving as discussant on the panel “Domestic Politics and Foreign Policy” for the Junior Scholar Symposia, with contributions on a range of phenomena linked to international security, including military assistance, battlefield performance, and the relationship between leaders’ childhood experiences and their foreign policy behavior once in office.

Beyond that, the DVPW group on Foreign and Security Policy held an informal meeting at ISA (see the group’s Twitter account) and the Foreign Policy Analysis Methods Café saw its 4th installment as part of the conference program.

18 Mar

Open Access Article Published in Global Policy

Persistence Against the Odds: How Entrepreneurial Agents Helped the UN Joint Inspection Unit to Prevail

Global Policy published an open access article that draws on research from our DFG project on “International Bureaucracies and Agency Slack” (with Eugénia da Conceição-Heldt, Anna Novoselova, and Omar Ramon Serrano Oswald). The article “Persistence Against the Odds: How Entrepreneurial Agents Helped the UN Joint Inspection Unit to Prevail” draws on delegation theory and historical institutionalism to examine how and why the Joint Inspection Unit (JIU) persisted despite witnessing several existential challenges to its survival.

We thank current and former inspectors and officials of the United Nations System who were exceedingly generous with their time and resources. The interviews conducted were essential to the research for this article. We also acknowledge the generous support of the German Research Foundation under DFG project number 370183851. Open access funding was enabled and organized by Projekt DEAL.

Abstract: Since its inception in 1966, the United Nations Joint Inspection Unit (JIU) has prevailed in the face of significant existential challenges. Against this backdrop, we investigate how and why the JIU persisted over time. Combining delegation and historical institutionalist approaches, we posit that entrepreneurial agents and layering processes together help us better understand persistence of inter-national organizations. Based on semi-structured interviews with UN staff and JIU inspectors, we examine three critical junctures in the history of the JIU. Our results show that entrepreneurial agents and stakeholders in the JIU managed to avoid the closure or demotion of the JIU by engaging in a strategy of institutional layering. Our analysis, however, also demonstrates that the JIU survived at the price of losing its privilege as the central UN oversight body. These findings have implications for the study of international organizations and for the reform of the UN system at large.

06 Mar

Open Access Article Published in International Studies Review

QCA in International Relations: A Review of Strengths, Pitfalls, and Empirical Applications

International Studies Review published our open access article “QCA in International Relations: A Review of Strengths, Pitfalls, and Empirical Applications” (with Tobias Ide, Murdoch University, Perth). This is the first comprehensive review of QCA applications in International Relations (IR), covering empirical studies published between 1987 and 2020. The article discusses strengths and limitations of QCA and develops concise recommendations on how to improve QCA research in IR.

Abstract: Qualitative comparative analysis (QCA) is a rapidly emerging method in the field of International Relations (IR). This raises questions about the strengths and pitfalls of QCA in IR research, established good practices, how IR performs against those standards, and which areas require further attention. After a general introduction to the method, we address these questions based on a review of all empirical QCA studies published in IR journals between 1987 and 2020. Results show that QCA has been employed on a wide range of issue areas and is most common in the study of peace and conflict, global environmental politics, foreign policy, and compliance with international regulations. The utilization of QCA offers IR scholars four distinct advantages: the identification of complex causal patterns, the distinction between necessary and sufficient conditions, a middle ground between quantitative and qualitative approaches, and the reinforcement of the strengths of other methods. We find that albeit a few exceptions, IR researchers conduct high-quality QCA research when compared against established standards. However, the field should urgently pay more attention to three issues: the potential of using QCA in combination with other methods, increasing the robustness of QCA results, and strengthening research transparency in QCA applications. Throughout the article, we formulate strategies for improved QCA research in IR.

24 Feb

Article Published in European Political Science Review

Incentives and Constraints: A Configurational Account of European Involvement in the anti-Daesh Coalition

The European Political Science Review (Cambridge University Press) published my article “Incentives and Constraints: A Configurational Account of European Involvement in the anti-Daesh Coalition“. Supplementary material to the set-theoretic analysis, including the results of robustness tests, can be accessed here.

Abstract: In 2014, the USA initiated the formation of a multilateral military operation against Daesh in Syria and Iraq. Eventually, more than 70 states joined the anti-Daesh coalition. However,contributions to the military effort have been characterized by great variance, especially among EU member states. While some states took leading roles in the airstrikes, others provided training for Iraqi and Kurdish forces, and still others did not get involved beyond voicing their support for the policy. Against this backdrop, this article makes a two-fold contribution to the literature on military coalitions and security policy. Empirically, the article provides a mapping of the then 28 EU member states’ military engagement in the fight against Daesh in Syria and Iraq. Analytically, fuzzy-set Qualitative Comparative Analysis (fsQCA) is applied to account for the observed pattern of military involvement, using an integrative framework that combines international and domestic factors. The results demonstrate that multiple paths led towards EU military involvement in the anti-Daesh coalition. At the same time, international level incentives, such as external threat and/or alliance value feature prominently in all three identified paths. The analysis further underscores the value of a configurational perspective, because neither an external threat nor alliance value are sufficient on their own to bring about the outcome. Across the set-theoretic configurations, these conditions either combine with other ‘push’ factors or with the absence of constraints against military involvement. In line with the latter, the article highlights the policy relevance of institutional constraints, especially legislative veto rights, since most of those countries that were involved in the airstrikes of the anti-Daesh coalition did not have formal parliamentary involvement on matters of military deployment policy.

Corrigendum: The published article contains erroneous illustrations. A correction notice will be published on the EPSR website. Meanwhile, a correct preprint version of the article can be accessed here.

17 Feb

26th Summer School in Social Science Methods, Lugano 2022

Registration opened for the 26th Summer School in Social Science Methods, organized by the Swiss Foundation for Social Science Research (FORS) and the Università della Svizzera Italiana (USI). The school takes place at USI in beautiful Lugano, Switzerland.

For the 4th time, I am offering a one-week course on Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA) at the Swiss Summer School. The course takes place in presence during the week of August 22-26, 2022. The intensive full-day format in a small group settings allows for plenty of opportunities to practice empirical application with the R software, to discuss research design, and give feedback on participants’ research projects.

The course is based on my recent QCA textbook Qualitative Comparative Analysis: An Introduction to Research Design and Application (Georgetown University Press, 2021).