Political Entrepreneurs and Civil Wars

Professor Andrea Ruggeri


Are some rebels more important than others in civil wars? While the existing literature on civil wars has developed theories and provided empirical evidence based either on structural features of society or individual preferences and strategies, we lack a micro-level analysis, where some rebels, namely political entrepreneurs, are distinguished from the “average rebel”. This may be surprising since studies on collective action and common sense tell us tbat not all actors are equal. Some actors and not others are the ones to encourage, organize and lead mobilization. The following research project aims to explore the micro-level of conflict, focusing on the role of political entrepreneurs in civil wars.

It develops a theoretical framework of how political entrepreneurs can affect the mobilization, diffusion, intensity, and duration of civil wars. That framework will bring together djsparate insights on political entrepreneurs from a range of social-science disciplines, especially economics, political science, and psychology. Central to the framework is the argument that political entrepreneurs can overcome well­known problems of free-riding and individualistic strategies, using many mechanisms such as discovering private preferences; framing or coordinating expectations; and generally using persuasion, manipulation, or punishment. In these and other aspects of their positioning, political entrepreneurs can be crucial to tipping-the-balance for a rebel movement in the onset of civil war. After developing these theoretical insights, the project will then evaluate the arguments using mixed-method empirical research: combining quantitative large-N econometric and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) analyses with qualitative case studies using network analysis and in-depth interviews. This combination will both clarify general patterns and disentangle the causal mechanisms underlying them. The resulting contribution should in,prove our understating of the micro dynamics in civil wars and, in turn, provide new and more effective tools for conflict resolution and prevention.

ISRF Andrea Ruggeri

Andrea Ruggeri is Professor of Political Science and International Relations and Director of the Centre for International Studies at the University of Oxford.

He joined Brasenose College and the Department of Politics an International Relations at the University of Oxford in 2014. Previously, he was Assistant Professor of International Relations at the University of Amsterdam from 2010. He holds a PhD in Government from the University of Essex (2011), an MA International Relations (Essex, 2006) and a BA in Diplomatic and International Sciences (Genova, 2005).

His current research deals with civil wars and peacekeeping. His broader research interests include collective political violence, state development, and comparative politics in Africa and Middle East.


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