As of September 1, 2022, I am Assistant Professor of International Security at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam in the Netherlands, where I’m joining the Department of Political Science and Public Administration of the Faculty of Social Sciences. Thanks to everyone at the department for making this happen! I’m thrilled about what lies ahead and look forward to working with my new colleagues in Amsterdam!
New Position at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
26th Summer School in Social Science Methods, Lugano 2022
From August 22-28, 2022 I taught at the 26th Summer School in Social Science Methods, organized by the Swiss Foundation for Social Science (FORS) and the Università della Svizzera Italiana (USI). The summer school is hosted at USI in beautiful Lugano, Switzerland.
This was the fourth time I offered a one-week intensive course on Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA) at the Summer School in Lugano (after 2016, 2019, and 2021). This year, the course was offered as full-day in-presence workshop, with 18 participants hailing from 11 countries.
The course was based on my QCA textbook Qualitative Comparative Analysis: An Introduction to Research Design and Application, published with Georgetown University Press (2021, Publisher’s Website).
Many thanks to all course participants for an intensive and fun week with QCA! And thanks to School Coordinator Janice Casarella and the School Directors Benedetto Lepori, Eugène Horber, and Patrick Gagliardini for the excellent and smooth organization!
Open Access Article Published in Global Studies Quarterly
The July 2022 edition of ISA’s new open access journal Global Studies Quarterly features our article “When Do International Organizations Engage in Agency Slack? A Qualitative Comparative Analysis of United Nations Institutions” (with Eugénia Heldt, Anna Novoselova, and Omar Ramon Serrano Oswald). The article is based on research from our German Research Foundation project on “International Bureaucracies and Agency Slack” under DFG project number 370183851. Our study examines 16 UN organizations and the organizational characteristics under which agency slack occurs at these IOs, based on a qualitative coding of primary documents from the UN Joint Inspection Unit.
Abstract: The extensive delegation of power to international organizations (IOs) has been accompanied by occasional agency slack. While prior studies suggest that IOs’ propensity for agency slack may be rooted in their organizational characteristics, this has rarely been explored empirically. To address this lacuna, in this article we propose a conceptualization and measurement of agency slack and develop a framework of organizational characteristics. Our empirical analysis applies qualitative comparative analysis to assess the conditions under which agency slack occurs across sixteen United Nations institutions. We complement the cross-case analysis with two case illustrations. Our results document the empirical existence of two paths to agency slack, providing conﬁrmatory evidence for our theoretical expectations. Path 1 combines stafﬁng rules that are favorable for the agent with wide access to third parties. Path 2 entails the combination of favorable stafﬁng rules with extensive delegation of authority and a vague organizational mandate.
Incentives and Constraints – Corrigendum
The European Political Science Review issued a correction for the article “Incentives and Constraints: A Configurational Explanation of European Involvement in the Anti-Daesh Coalition“, originally published on February 24, 2022. The original publication contained erroneous illustrations. The correct versions of Table 1, Table 3, Table 4, and Table 5 are entailed in the corrigendum.
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).
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!
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.
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).
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.
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.