New research projects by IDCAR partners

We congratulate two of our network partner institutions on the approval of new projects funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG): Marianne Kneuer and Thomas Demmelhuber from the University of Hildesheim with their project “Gravity Centers of Authoritarian Rule: a Comparative Perspective” and Aurel Croissant and David Kuehn from Heidelberg University on “Dictator's Endgame. Theory and empirical analysis of military behavior in authoritarian regime crises, 1946-2014”

We congratulate our network partners from the University of Hildesheim, Professor Marianne Kneuer and Professor Thomas Demmelhuber, on the approval of their research project “Gravity Centers of Authoritarian Rule: a Comparative Perspective”. The project is funded by the German Research Fundation (DFG) and will run for three years.

The project argues that the promotion of autocracy (intentional, actor-driven) as well as the diffusion (unintentional, neutral transmission) can be attributed to authoritarian centers of gravity (AGC) defined as regimes that constitute a force of attraction and contagion for countries in geopolitical proximity. The research questions are: What elements are imposed, diffused and transferred, in which way, in which intensity and effectiveness? What mechanisms between the AGC and the neighboring countries are induced?

The project follows three objectives: (1) Addressing the lack of a conceptual basis concerning the international dimension of authoritarian rule and offering a better understanding of the dissemination of autocratic elements through the concept of AGCs. (2) Identifying the sources, elements, and addressees of autocracy promotion and diffusion and tracing their respective pathways on the basis of a developed analytical, heuristic model. (3) Applying this model in an empirical analysis.

The research design is based on a Most Different Cases Design encompassing three AGCs which represent different regions, different autocratic subtypes and which have in common as the dependent variable the regional framing of autocratic dissemination: Saudi Arabia, Venezuela and Kazakhstan. The cross-area comparison addresses the pathways of influence and diffusion towards the neighboring countries. The analysis focuses on the period of time from 2001 until 2014 and will be conducted in a qualitative way.

We also congratulate our network partners from Heidelberg University, Professor Aurel Croissant and Dr. David Kuehn, on the approval of their research project “Dictator's Endgame. Theory and empirical analysis of military behavior in authoritarian regime crises, 1946-2014”. This project is also funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) for a duration of three years.

The project aims to analyze the role of the military during episodes of peaceful mass mobilization in non-democratic regimes. It aims to answer two questions: (1) When does the military defend the dictator against the mobilizing masses and when does it defect from the regime coalition? (2) How can different forms of defection be explained, i.e., when and why do military leaders side with the opposition, and when do they stage a coup d’état, respectively? In order to answer these questions, the project advances the concept of “dictator’s endgame”, and develops a game-theoretic model that explains the outcome of authoritarian regime crises as the result of strategic bargaining between the dictator, the military leadership and the opposition over the distribution of material and political privileges. The model’s explanatory power is tested through a mixed methods approach that systematically combines statistical analyses and process tracing case studies. At the core of the empirical analysis rests an original quantitative dataset on all instances of mass mobilizations in non-democratic regimes worldwide between 1946 and 2014. As of now, there is no comparable study that combines deductive theoretical modeling and a multi-method empirical analysis of all instances of mass mobilization in autocratic regimes. The project, therefore, promises to deliver innovative theoretical and empirical contributions to four areas of political research: the study of non-democratic regimes, democratization research, research on civil-military relations, and the study of contentious politics.