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!
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.
Book review published in German Politics
On December 21, 2020, German Politics (Taylor & Francis) published my book review of Entscheidungsträger in der deutschen Außenpolitik: Führungseigenschaften und politische Überzeugungen der Bundeskanzler und Außenminister (Nomos) by Christian Rabini, Katharina Dimmroth, Klaus Brummer, and Mischa Hansel.
From the review: “In sum, this book offers a compelling account of German leaders and their foreign policies, based on meticulous research and a systematic application of leadership profiling. The book’s methods should stimulate wide application in the field of foreign policy analysis, and beyond.”
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]
Book Review of All Necessary Measures: The UN and Humanitarian Intervention
The new issue of Perspectives on Politics (14: 1) contains my book review of All Necessary Measures: The United Nations and Humanitarian Intervention by Carrie Booth Walling (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013).
From the review: “The challenges of “humanitarian intervention” have been of pressing concern to policymakers and academics ever since the end of the bipolar confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union. This became most evident when the international community failed to respond decisively to the genocide in Rwanda,despite having forces on the ground, as well as when it did not stop the atrocities of the Bosnian to its fate and when “safe havens” in Srebrenica were attacked and overrun by Serbian forces. In other conflicts, the UN Security Council did authorize a military response using “all necessary means,” as in Somalia, Sierra Leone, and, as the most recent humanitarian rights violations continues to haunt the international community, most visibly in the deadlock of the Security Council in the face of the humanitarian catastrophe in Syria.
In All Necessary Measures, Carrie Booth Walling explores the social construction and evolution of humanitarian intervention discourse and subsequent action at the the likelihood of force being used in defense of human rights by constructing narratives about the character and cause of a conflict.“ [Read Further]