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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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).
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.
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.
Am 12. und 13. Januar 2022 habe ich am Max-Weber-Institut der Universität Heidelberg einen virtuellen Workshop zu Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA) gehalten. Neben einer allgemeinen Einführung in die Methodik von QCA illustrierte der Workshop empirische Anwendungsmöglichkeiten und die konkrete Durchführung von QCA-Analysen mit R und den zugehörigen R Packages. Als Grundlage diente das Lehrbuch Qualitative Comparative Analysis: An Introduction to Research Design and Application (Georgetown University Press, 2021).
Herzlichen Dank an Prof. Matthias Koenig (Lehrstuhl Empirische Makrosoziologie) für die Einladung und an alle Teilnehmer*innen für den konstruktiven Workshop!
On December 13-15, I took part virtually in the 9th International QCA Expert Workshop and 5th International QCA Paper Development Workshop at ETH Zurich (organized by Manuel Fischer, Julia Leib, Johannes Meuer, Sofia Pagliarin, Ryan Rumble, and Christian Rupietta). The main workshop brought together a group of about 30 QCA experts from around the globe, most of whom participated online to discuss methodological innovations, the diffusion of QCA, and new measures of validity and robustness. The preceding paper development workshop included more than a dozen roundtables with about 50 applied QCA papers that were presented and discussed. I co-chaired roundtables with Sofia Pagliarin (Erasmus University Rotterdam) and Nena Oana (European University Institute), presented my recent QCA textbook Qualitative Comparative Analysis: An Introduction to Research Design and Application (Georgetown University Press), and took part in the jury for the QCA Best Paper Award (together with Yunzhou Du, Peer Fiss, Benoît Rihoux, Carsten Schneider, and Eva Thomann).
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