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.
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.
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.
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.
62nd Annual Convention of the International Studies Association, April 6-9, 2021
At this year’s Annual Convention of the International Studies Association(ISA), I had four program appearances. The conference had initially been scheduled to take place in Las Vegas, but the COVID-19 pandemic made a shift to a virtual format necessary.
Together with Eugénia da Conceição-Heldt, Omar Serrano Oswald, and Anna Novoselova, we presented a paper on “Survival and Resilience of the UN Joint Inspection Unit“, based on our DFG research project, in a panel on the “Persistence and Resilience of International Organizations”, chaired and discussed by Orfeo Fioretos. I further contributed to the “Foreign Policy Analysis Methods Café“, chaired by Falk Ostermann, and I took part in the roundtable “Qualitative Comparative Analysis in International Relations“, chaired by Tobias Ide. Finally, I also served as chair and discussant in the panel “Statecraft in the 21st Century” (for details on the panels and roundtables, see below).
Besides these contributions, I also took part in the Business Meeting of ISA’s Foreign Policy AnalysisSectionand the Editorial Board Meeting of the section’s journal Foreign Policy Analysis (Oxford University Press).
Overall, the virtual platform worked seamlessly and many of the panels were incredibly well-attended, with about 45 participants in the Methods Café and 30 participants in the panel on International Organizations. Nonetheless, the in-person interaction is surely missing, so let’s hope that next year’s ISA can take place as planned, in Nashville, Tennessee, March 2022!
Abstract:While parliaments have long been neglected actors in the analysis of security policy, a research literature on the subject is growing. Current research is focused primarily on how parliaments, relying on formal legal competences, can constrain governmental policies. However, this research needs expansion in three areas. First, informal sources of parliamentary influence on security policy deserve more systematic attention as the significance of parliaments often hinges on contextual factors and individual decision-makers. Second, we still lack a systematic understanding of the effects of parliamentary involvement on security policy. Finally, the role of parliaments for the politics of security is almost completely uncharted territory. When parliaments become involved in security policy, does it foster transparency and contribute to the politicisation of security policy so that security policy becomes a ‘normal’ political issue? The article reviews current research, derives findings from the contributions to this Special Issue, and spells out their wider implications.
Introduction to the special issue:
Mello, Patrick A., and Dirk Peters (2018) ‘Parliaments in Security Policy: Involvement, Politicisation, and Influence’, British Journal of Politics and International Relationshttps://doi.org/10.1177/1369148117745684.
Strong, James (2018) ‘The War Powers of the British Parliament: What Has Been Established and What Remains Unclear?’, British Journal of Politics and International Relationshttps://doi.org/10.1177/1369148117745767.
Kriner, Douglas L. (2018) ‘Congress, Public Opinion, and an Informal Constraint on the Commander-in-Chief’, British Journal of Politics and International Relationshttps://doi.org/10.1177/1369148117745860.
Rosén, Guri, and Kolja Raube (2018) ‘Influence Beyond Formal Powers: The Parliamentarisation of European Union Security Policy’, British Journal of Politics and International Relationshttps://doi.org/10.1177/1369148117747105.
Schade, Daniel (2018) ‘Limiting or Liberating? The Influence of Parliaments on Military Deployments in Multinational Settings’, British Journal of Politics and International Relationshttps://doi.org/10.1177/1369148117746918.
Wagner, Wolfgang (2018) ‘Is There a Parliamentary Peace? Parliamentary Veto Power and Military Interventions from Kosovo to Daesh’, British Journal of Politics and International Relationshttps://doi.org/10.1177/1369148117745859.
Lagassé, Philippe, and Patrick A. Mello (2018) ‘The Unintended Consequences of Parliamentary Involvement: Elite Collusion and Afghanistan Deployments in Canada and Germany’, British Journal of Politics and International Relationshttps://doi.org/10.1177/1369148117745681.
Raunio, Tapio (2018) ‘Parliament as an Arena for Politicization: The Finnish Eduskunta and Crisis Management Operations’, British Journal of Politics and International Relationshttps://doi.org/10.1177/1369148117745682.
Hegemann, Hendrik (2018) ‘Towards ‘Normal’ Politics? Security, Parliaments and the Politicisation of Intelligence Oversight in the German Bundestag’, British Journal of Politics and International Relationshttps://doi.org/10.1177/1369148117745683.
The February 2020 issue (5:1) of the European Journal of International Security (Cambridge University Press) features the article “Paths towards Coalition Defection: Democracies and Withdrawal from the Iraq War“. The study examines democratic war involvement in Iraq across 51 leaders from 29 countries. The article is the first QCA study that covers the entire period of coalition operations in Iraq, from 2003 until 2010, across all democratic governments that were involved in the multinational coalition. Among other findings, the article challenges some previous studies’ results on the effects of leadership turnover and electoral incentives (here and here). The set-theoretic analysis documents causal heterogeneity, where multiple paths lead towards coalition defection and leadership turnover only brought about the outcome of coalition withdrawal when combined with specific other conditions. For electoral incentives, contrary to expectations derived from prior studies, it could not be shown that upcoming elections were associated with coalition defection. Finally, the article documents the importance of casualties and prior commitment as factors that had previously been neglected. Replication data is hosted a Harvard Dataverse (R script, data, supplement).
Abstract: Despite widespread public opposition to the Iraq War, numerous democracies joined the US-led multinational force. However, while some stayed until the end of coalition operations, and several increased their deployments over time, others left unilaterally. How to explain this variation?
While some studies suggest that democratic defection from security commitments is primarily motivated by electoral incentives or leadership change, scholars have not reached a consensus on this issue. To account for the complex interplay between causal factors, this article develops an integrative theoretical framework, using fuzzy-set Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA) on original data on the Iraq War involvement of 51 leaders from 29 democracies.
The findings document the existence of multiple paths towards coalition defection. Among others, the results show that: (1) leadership change led to early withdrawal only when combined with leftist partisanship and the absence of upcoming elections; (2) casualties and coalition commitment played a larger role than previously assumed; and (3) coalition defection often occurred under the same leaders who had made the initial decision to deploy to Iraq, and who did not face elections when they made their withdrawal announcements.
Mello, Patrick A. (2020) Paths towards Coalition Defection: Democracies and Withdrawal from the Iraq War, European Journal of International Security 5 (1): 45-76 (https://doi.org/10.1017/eis.2019.10)
Article Published in the European Journal of International Security
The European Journal of International Security (Cambridge University Press) has published a first view version of “Paths towards Coalition Defection: Democracies and Withdrawal from the Iraq War“. The open access article PDF is available here. Replication data is hosted a Harvard Dataverse(R script, data, supplement).The article examines democratic war involvement in Iraq across 51 leaders from 29 democracies. It is the first set-theoretic study that covers the entire time frame of coalition operations, from 2003 until 2010. Its counter-intuitive findings document the existence of multiple paths towards coalition defection, emphasizing the importance of casualties and prior commitment. The European Journal of International Security (EJIS), founded in 2016, aims to publish “the cutting-edge of security research”, taking a cross-disciplinary approach that seeks to cover all areas of international and global security. EJIS is a journal of the British International Studies Association (BISA).
Abstract: Despite widespread public opposition to the Iraq War, numerous democracies joined the US-led multinational force. However, while some stayed until the end of coalition operations, and several increased their deployments over time, others left unilaterally. How to explain this variation? While some studies suggest that democratic defection from security commitments is primarily motivated by electoral incentives or leadership change, scholars have not reached a consensus on this issue. To account for the complex interplay between causal factors, this article develops an integrative theoretical framework, using fuzzy-set Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA) on original data on the Iraq War involvement of 51 leaders from 29 democracies. The findings document the existence of multiple paths towards coalition defection. Among others, the results show that: (1) leadership change led to early withdrawal only when combined with leftist partisanship and the absence of upcoming elections; (2) casualties and coalition commitment played a larger role than previously assumed; and (3) coalition defection often occurred under the same leaders who had made the initial decision to deploy to Iraq, and who did not face elections when they made their withdrawal announcements.
47th ECPR Joint Sessions of Workshops at UCL Mons, Belgium
From 8-12 April 2019, UCL Mons hosted the 47th ECPR Joint Sessions of Workshops. I took part in the workshop “Formal and Informal Intergovernmental Organisations in Time: Explaining Transformations in Global Governance”, chaired by Eugénia Heldt (TU Munich) and Duncan Snidal (University of Oxford). The three-day workshop featured 22 research papers from 27 contributors from the USA, Australia, and all across Europe. Our research team presented first empirical results from the ongoing DFG project “International Bureaucracies as ‘Runaway Agents’? How Organizational Structure Affects Agency Slack” (2018-2021, grant volume 488.000 €), based on a paper co-authored with Eugénia Heldt, Omar Ramon Serrano Oswald, and Anna Novoselova (all from the Bavarian School of Public Policy, TU Munich). Details on the DFG research project can be found here. For Information on the ECPR Joint Sessions in Mons see this link.
60th Annual Convention of the International Studies Association, 27-30th March 2019, Toronto
At the Annual Convention of the ISA in Toronto, I have three program appearances. I contribute a paper to a panel on “Democratic Alliance Reliability and the Global Coalition Against the Islamic State“, chaired and organized by Justin Massie, with Olivier Schmitt as discussant. The panel includes papers from Marina E. Henke, Rasmus Brun Pedersen, Yf Reykers, Jonathan Paquin, Stéfanie von Hlatky, and Justin Massie – a great lineup of scholars, many of which also contributed to our CSP Special Forum 2019 on “The Politics of Multinational Military Operations“, which I co-edited with Steve Saideman. I also take part in the second installment of the “Methods Café: Foreign Policy Analysis – Methods and Approaches“. At ISA 2018 in San Francisco the methods café was nominated as ISA Innovative Panel and due to the popularity of the format Marijke Breuning, Falk Ostermann, and I decided to submit a similar panel for ISA Toronto. We are honored to have an excellent lineup of scholars for the Methods Café, including Klaus Brummer, Rose McDermott, Stephen Benedict Dyson, Stefano Guzzini, Ted Hopf, Mark Schafer, Burcu Bayram, and Soumita Basu join us for the Methods Café! The café brings together scholars that represent diverse methods and approaches in foreign policy analysis. The format provides an informal setting where participants can meet panelists at separate tables to discuss methods-related questions. Please join us for the methods café! Finally, I am part of a roundtable on “Teaching Foreign Policy Analysis at the Undergraduate Level“, chaired and organized by Baris Kesgin. We will be joined by Marijke Breuning, Ozgur Ozdamar, Cristian Cantir, Raul Salgado Espinoza, Jeffrey Lantis, Kai Oppermann, Nicolas Blarel, Bertjan Verbeek, and Akan Malici to discuss our approaches to teaching FPA and the practicalities of classroom settings. The roundtable is sponsored by the Foreign Policy Analysis section of the International Studies Association. The conference website for ISA Toronto 2019 can be found here. There is even an official welcome letter from PM Justin P.J. Trudeau!
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