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.
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.
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.
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.
The Routledge volume Researching Non-State Actors in International Security: Theory and Practice, edited by Andreas Kruck and Andrea Schneiker, has now been turned into a fully open access book. The book contains chapters on “interpreting texts” (Part I), “establishing causal claims” (Part II), and “doing fieldwork” (Part III). I contributed a chapter on “Qualitative Comparative Analysis and the Study of Non-State Actors” to Part II of the volume. The book’s substantive chapters are complemented by “discussion chapters” where commentators draw together and reflect upon the respective areas of research.
Many thanks to the editors and other contributors for their efforts turning this into an open access book! I am grateful for the open access funding approved by the University of Erfurt to contribute to this aim.
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.
Abstract: Recent studies on political ideology suggest the existence of partisan divides on matters of foreign and security policy – challenging the notion that “politics stops at the water’s edge”. However, when taken as a whole, extant work provides decidedly mixed evidence of party-political differences outside domestic politics. This article first conducts a systematic empirical analysis of the relationship between parties’ left-right positions and their general attitude towards peace and security missions, which suggests that right-leaning parties tend to be more supportive of military operations. Yet, the results also show that the empirical pattern is curvilinear: centrist and center-right parties witness the highest level of support for military missions, while parties on both ends of the political spectrum show substantially less support. The second part of our analysis examines whether the stronger support of rightist parties for peace and security missions translates into a greater inclination of right-wing governments to actually deploy forces to military operations. Strikingly, our results suggest that leftist governments were actually more inclined to participate in operations than their right-leaning counterparts. The greater willingness of left-wing executives to deploy military forces is the result of their greater inclination to participate in operations with inclusive goals.
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)
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