01 Jun

Researching Non-State Actors in International Security

Researching Non-State Actors in International Security: Theory and Practice

Qualitative Comparative Analysis and the Study of Non-State Actors (Chapter 9)

Mello, Patrick A. (2017) Qualitative Comparative Analysis and the Study of Non-State Actors, in Andrea Schneiker and Andreas Kruck ed., Researching Non-State Actors in International Security: Theory & Practice, London: Routledge, 123-142.

Book Abstract: All researchers face the same challenge, not only must they identify a suitable method for analysing their research question, they must also apply it. This volume prepares students and scholars for the key challenges they confront when using social-science methods in their own research. To bridge the gap between knowing methods and actually employing them, the book not only introduces a broad range of interpretive and explanatory methods, it also discusses their practical application. Contributors reflect on how they have used methods, or combinations of methods, such as narrative analysis, interviews, qualitative comparative analysis (QCA), case studies, experiments or participant observation in their own research on non-state actors in international security. Moreover, experts on the relevant methods discuss these applications as well as the merits and limitations of the various methods in use. Research on non-state actors in international security provides ample challenges and opportunities to probe different methodological approaches. It is thus particularly instructive for students and scholars seeking insights on how to best use particular methods for their research projects in International Relations (IR), security studies and neighbouring disciplines. It also offers an innovative laboratory for developing new research techniques and engaging in unconventional combinations of methods [More Information]

23 Mar

Lecture at Leuven Centre for Global Governance Studies, KU Leuven

Patrick A. Mello on ‘Parliamentary Rebellion in Cases of War and Peace? Comparing the UK and Germany’

Jean Monnet Network PACO, 2017 Spring Lecture Series: Rebels With a Cause? Parliamentary Resilience in European and Global Governance

Lecture Series Introduction:European and global governance have in common that they refer to policy-making and problem-solving beyond traditional nation states. Often, the role of parliaments in their capacity as legislators, scrutinizers of executives and democratic gatekeepers is overlooked in this regard. There have been notorious cases in the past, such as the US Senate’s non-approval of the League of Nations and International Trade Organization charters, or the French Assemblée’s non-approval of the European Defence Community. Recently, parliaments have become increasingly more assertive, as inter alia illustrated by the European Parliament’s rejection of the SWIFT and ACTA agreements, and by the Walloon Parliament’s resistance to CETA.

The present lecture series addresses the evolving roles of parliaments in European and global governance by looking in particular at such ‘parliamentary rebellions’. This refers to situations in which parliaments actively use their prerogatives to challenge decision-making and diplomacy in European and global governance. Parliamentary rebellions appear to take place for various reasons. The lecture series provides various ‘tales’ of such rebellions in order to understand and explain the causes, factors and forces that drive parliaments when they threaten to veto international treaties or use their parliamentary prerogatives, for instance by voting against military interventions [Read Further] [Lecture Brochure]

21 Mar

Special Issue on “Parliaments and Security Policy”

Proposal for a Special Issue on “Parliaments and Security Policy” Accepted by BJPIR

The Editors of The British Journal of Politics and International Relations (BJPIR) have accepted a proposal for a special issue on “Parliaments and Security Policy”, guest-edited by Patrick A. Mello and Dirk Peters, to be published in early 2018.

BJPIR is a peer reviewed journal of the Political Studies Association of the UK with an Impact Factor of 1.423 (2016) and Rankings of 62/165 in Political Science and 24/86 in International Relations [More Information].

Summary: This special issue zeroes in on the pivotal democratic institution – parliament – to study legislative involvement in security matters and its effects on policy outcomes. The contributions employ a diverse set of theoretical perspectives and methods to explore the role of parliaments across a broad range of contemporary Western democracies. In doing so, they address three central questions:

(1) What are the opportunity structures for parliamentary involvement in security policy? IR studies often view security policy as dominated by the executive and parliamentary involvement as narrowly circumscribed by constitutional rules. The contributions show that parliamentary influence on security policy is not determined by the extent of formal competences. Instead, we highlight the role of executive leadership styles, of coalition politics, and of parliamentarians’ strategies to make the case for a richer and dynamic understanding of parliaments in security policy.

(2) Are parliaments sites of politicization of security policy? There is a widely-held belief in politics and political theory that parliamentary involvement contributes to the contestation and politicization of security decisions, which is seen by some as endangering the effectiveness of security policy and by others as a welcome challenge to executive dominance and a step towards democratization of this policy field. To examine this assumption, we provide cross-case comparisons of parliamentary politics in the security realm. We show that parliamentary involvement can affect public opinion on executive policies but that parliaments can also contribute to the de-politicization of security issues.

(3) What is the effect of parliamentary participation in security policy? Against the background of insights about the opportunity structure for parliamentary involvement and the parliamentary politics of security, contributions address the effects on policy outcomes. In particular, we examine whether there is cross-country evidence for a “parliamentary peace” and whether parliamentary war powers entail unintended consequences that run counter to normative expectations or historical aims.

20 Mar

Book Review in Perspectives on Politics

Democratic Participation in Armed Conflict Reviewed by Anja Jetschke (University of Göttingen)

The new issue of Perspectives on Politics (15: 1) contains a review of Democratic Participation in Armed Conflict (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014).

From the review:Patrick A. Mello addresses a set of important questions: Why and under what conditions do democracies participate in armed conflict? Do constitutional provisions that define limits to participation in military actions, the rights of parliaments to veto participation, or public opinion provide effective constraints on democratic leaders? Are conservative, rightist governments more war prone than leftist governments? Or is military capacity—that is, governments’ ability to actually conduct such interventions—the most effective constraint?

One of the most important findings of Democratic Participation in Armed Conflict is that constitutional provisions matter. They provide effective barriers against the participation of democracies, especially for interventions whose international legal basis is controversial. Thus, where international law fails to prevent such wars, domestic constitutions step in—at least in the case of established democracies. None of the democracies with constitutional constraints have participated in such interventions [Read Further]

12 Jan

The British House of Commons and the Conflicts in Libya and Syria

Curbing the Royal Prerogative to Use Military Force: The British House of Commons and the Conflicts in Libya and Syria

Abstract: To what extent does political practice under the British Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition (2010–2015) reflect a ‘parliamentary prerogative’? From a formal-institutional point of view one should not expect substantial parliamentary influence in Britain. Yet recent developments suggest the emergence of a new convention. Examining parliamentary debates during the run-up to the votes on Libya and Syria, this contribution shows that the scope and contents of this convention remain contested. Specifically, there is disagreement about the kind of operations that ought to be exempt from the rule, questions of parliamentary procedure that favour the executive and, crucially, the proper timing of substantive votes. Nonetheless, parliament has emerged from the vote on Syria as an informal veto player on decisions regarding war involvement. However, whether MPs will exercise their veto power in prospective cases will depend on the preference distribution in the legislature and the nature of the proposed deployment.

Keywords: Constitutional convention, legislative–executive relations, military intervention, parliamentary war powers, prerogative powers

Mello, Patrick A. (2017) Curbing the Royal Prerogative to Use Military Force: The British House of Commons and the Conflicts in Libya and Syria, West European Politics 40:1, 80-100 [Article]

The paper is part of a Special Issue of West European Politics on “Challenging Executive Dominance: Legislatures and Foreign Affairs”, co-edited by Tapio Raunio and Wolfgang Wagner [Introduction to the Special Issue]

05 Jan

Two Entries Published in The SAGE Encyclopedia of War

Democratic Peace Theory

Abstract: “Democracies almost never go to war against each another. This simple observation has acquired the status of an empirical law in the social sciences. Yet, while democracies tend to have peaceful relations with one another, this is not to claim that democracies are generally less war-prone than other regime types. To the contrary, many empirical studies find that the overall rate of war involvement does not differ substantially between democracies and non-democracies. This dual finding constitutes the core of the ‘democratic peace’ and it specifies the elements that any theory needs to explain in order to fully account for the observed phenomena: the peaceful relations between democracies on the one hand, and the war involvement of democratic regimes on the other hand.

Mello, Patrick A. (2017) Democratic Peace Theory, in Paul I. Joseph, ed., The Sage Encyclopedia of War: Social Science Perspectives, Thousand Oaks: Sage, 472-6. [Preprint]

New and Old Wars

Abstract: “The end of the Cold War did not abolish armed conflict, but it coincided with a substantial decline in the total number of violent outbreaks around the globe. At the same time, though, the number of internal wars increased substantially, making these the dominant form of conflict of the contemporary era. These empirical trends prompted a lively debate among scholars as to whether the observed quantitative change in conflict patterns that had taken place in the wake of the Cold War also indicated a qualitative transformation of warfare. Many authors indeed argued, that intra-state or civil wars, underwent a qualitative change during this time period. In this context, the term ‘new wars’ was introduced by Mary Kaldor, who suggested that in parts of Africa and Eastern Europe a new form of organized violence had emerged during the last two decades of the twentieth century. Kaldor understood these conflicts on the one hand as a result of accelerated globalization processes and, on the other hand, as a consequence of the power vacuum left behind by the Cold War era. According to Kaldor, new wars differed from ‘old wars’ in terms of how they were being financed, with regards to the underlying motives of the warring parties, and concerning their mode of warfare. Herfried Münkler further developed the new war thesis, arguing that the new forms of conflict were characterized by the joint occurrence of privatization, demilitarization, and asymmetricalization. These processes entail a weakening of state structures, an increase in non-state actors as warring parties, the dissolution of distinctions between military and nonmilitary aspects, including the differentiation between civilians and combatants, and, finally, asymmetric constellations of actors, strategies, and capabilities. While for each of these phenomena historical precedents could be found in earlier times, Münkler argued that their joint occurrence after the Cold War led to the distinctly novel phenomenon of new wars.

Mello, Patrick A. (2017) New and Old Wars, in Paul I. Joseph, ed., The Sage Encyclopedia of War: Social Science Perspectives, Thousand Oaks: Sage, 1209-11. [Preprint]

[More Information] on the four-volume Sage Encyclopedia of War: Social Science Perspectives, edited by Paul Joseph.

07 Dec

4th International QCA Expert Workshop at ETH Zurich

Panel Debate on Qualitative Comparative Analysis and Research Transparency

Panelists: Gary Goertz, Peer Fiss, Patrick A. Mello, and Eva Thomann

Workshop Summary: “With the 4th International QCA Expert Workshop we build on the workshops of the past three years in bringing together around 40 researchers working with QCA across and beyond the neighboring areas of political sciences, sociology, management, and economics. By providing a forum for cross-disciplinary exchange, the 4th International QCA Expert Workshop encourages the dissemination of new ideas, facilitate the promotion of innovative work, and create opportunities for scientific collaboration” [Read Further]

10 Sep

Parliaments in Security Policy

German Foundation for Peace Research (DSF) Supports Project on “Parliaments in Security Policy”

Project Summary: The influence of parliaments on the formulation of security policy has found increasing interest in recent research. Importantly, comparative studies showed that consolidated democracies are characterized by substantial variance in the formal-institutional oversight powers of parliaments. While countries like the UK and France grant extensive powers to the executive, other countries, like Germany, Denmark, and Sweden, place military deployments under mandatory parliamentary approval. At the same time, however, research also shows that foreign policy outcomes cannot be attributed to the formal-institutional position of parliament alone. Instead, in order to explain specific policy decisions, additional factors such as party politics and ideology, parliamentary majorities, and public opinion need to be taken into account.

Moreover, whether parliamentary control actually has the intended consequences is contested, not least from the perspective of democratic theory. In practice, even in countries which require parliamentary approval parliament rarely vetoes government decisions. Consensual cross-party decisions, however, make it difficult for voters to attribute decisions to specific political actors. This undermines the “election mechanism” prominent in democratic theory and arguments on the democratic peace. Another strand in the literature focuses on the effects of parliamentary oversight on the conduct of multilateral military operations. These studies show an increased incidence of national caveats through parliamentary oversight, i.e. there tend to be more operational restrictions, which can lead to substantial problems for the effectiveness of multilateral operations.

Parallel to the academic debate, several western democracies witnessed an evaluation and reassessment of the relationship between the executive and parliament in terms of security policy. For instance, in Germany the current Bundestag introduced a commission to reassess parliamentary oversight procedures. In its policy recommendations, the commission suggested several options for reform, some of which would reduce existing oversight powers. In contrast, in Britain a cross-party consensus emerged in support of involving parliament in decisions on war, after the Iraq War was regarded as a failure by wide parts of the political elite and the public at large. Likewise, Spain introduced a parliamentary deployment law as a consequence of the decision to participate in Iraq. Finally, the United States saw several attempts at reforming the War Powers Resolution, which has remained contested among political actors since its introduction in 1973. During the present Congress alone, several reform initiatives were submitted but none of these passed into law.

An authors’ workshop will take place on 22-23 September 2016 at the Peace Research Institute Frankfurt (Hessische Stiftung Friedens- und Konfliktforschung), co-organized by Dirk Peters (PRIF) and Patrick A. Mello (HfP). The organizers gratefully acknowledge project funding of 11,000 EUR from the German Foundation for Peace Research (Deutsche Stiftung Friedensforschung) and financial and logistial support from the Peace Research Institute Frankfurt and the Bavarian School of Public Policy at TU Munich. The workshop is organized under the auspices of and in cooperation with the DVPW-Themengruppe Außen- und Sicherheitspolitik.

Project summary, German Foundation for Peace Research (German and English).

Program (PDF), Introduction (PDF)

20 Aug

Swiss Social Science Summer School 2016

Qualitative Comparative Analysis (Patrick A. Mello)

Methods Course at the 20th Swiss Social Science Summer School

Università della Svizzera Italiana, Lugano, 22-26 August 2016

The workshop provides participants with a thorough introduction to Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA), both as a research approach and as a data analysis technique. In recent years, this set-theoretic method has gained recognition among social scientists as a methodological approach that holds specific benefits for comparative studies. The course begins by familiarizing participants with the foundations of set theory and the basic concepts of the methodological approach of QCA, including necessary and sufficient conditions, Boolean algebra, and fuzzy logic. The next step is devoted to the calibration of empirical data into crisp and fuzzy sets. Once these essentials are in place, the course moves on to the construction and analysis of truth tables as the core of the QCA procedure. Here, we will also spend time to discuss typical challenges that arise during a truth table analysis and techniques to overcome such problems. Finally, the course will introduce consistency and coverage as parameters of fit as well as additional measures to assess the robustness of QCA results [Read Further]

22 Jul

ECPR Summer School in Methods and Techniques 2016

Qualitative Comparative Analysis and Fuzzy Sets

Patrick A. Mello (Week 1), Carsten Q. Schneider (Week 2), and Nena Oana (Teaching Assistant)

Methods Course taught for the European Consortium for Political Research at Central European University, Budapest, 28 July – 13 August 2016

Course Outline: This course introduces participants to set-theoretic methods and their application in the social sciences with a focus on Qualitative Comparative Analysis. The introductory course is complemented by an advanced course that is taught at the ECPR Winter School in Bamberg. The course starts out by familiarizing students with the basic concepts of the underlying methodological perspective, among them the central notions of necessity and sufficiency, formal logic and Boolean algebra. From there, we move to the logic and analysis of truth tables and discuss the most important problems that emerge when this analytical tool is used for exploring social science data. Right from the beginning, students will be exposed to performing set-theoretic analyses with the relevant R software packages. When discussing set-theoretic methods, in-class debates will engage on broad, general comparative social research issues, such as case selection principles, concept formation, questions of data aggregation and the treatment of causally relevant notions of time. Examples are drawn from published applications in the social sciences. Participants are encouraged to bring their own raw data for in-class exercises and assignments, if available [Read Further]