Master of Politics and Public Administration
DFG-Research Training Group "WIPCAD"
University of Potsdam
Department of Economics
and Social Sciences
14482 Potsdam, Germany
Office: Campus Griebnitzsee, House 7,
“On a small scale. How micro relations facilitate cooperation in peacekeeping interventions."
Researcher and PhD candidate (Dr. rer. pol.), University of Potsdam, Germany
10/2009 – 11/2011
M.A. in Politics and Public Administration, University of Konstanz, Germany
09/2007 – 05/2008
Academic year with an ERASMUS scholarship at the School of Social Sciences (Section Politics), The University of Manchester, Great Britain
11/2005 – 08/2009
B.A. in Politics and Public Administration, University of Konstanz, Germany
02/2009 – 10/2011
Student research assistant, Chair of Prof Dr Wolfgang Seibel and the Centre of Excellence 16 “Cultural Foundations of Social Integration”, University of Konstanz, Germany
07/2008 – 09/2008
Intern at German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) in Quito, Ecuador
04/2007 – 09/2007
Intern at German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) in Bonn
ECPR Graduate Student Conference 2014, Section “Public Administration” (with Thomas Danken, Katrin Dribbisch, and Rebecca Korinek), 3-5 July 2014, University of Innsbruck. See: www.ecpr.eu/Events/SectionDetails.aspx.
Summer semester 2014, M.A. Seminar, “International Organizations: Contemporary Social Science Approaches and Debates” (with Prof. Andrea Liese).
(with Thomas Danken and Katrin Dribbisch) 2016. “Studying Wicked Problems Forty Years On. Towards a Synthesis of a Fragmented Debate,” Der Moderne Staat (dms) 9, 1, pp. 15-33.
“Kein Nachrichtendienst für das UN-Sekretariat: Zur Realität der Planung von UN-Friedenssicherungseinsätzen”, Vereinte Nationen 60, no. 6, 257-262.
Decision-Making under the Condition of Complexity in UN Peacekeeping. Operationalizing Complexity. An Organizational Institutionalism Approach.
The Politics of Planning for Peace. Boundary Spanning, Politicization and the Planning Process of Peace Operations. (with Dr. Julian Junk and Frederik Trettin).
Walter, Jan D., Haiti, the UN and the unintended effects of a peacekeeping operation, Deutsche Welle (Germany’s public international broadcaster), 14 October 2017 [interview] [available at: p.dw.com/p/2loMz].
This study argues that micro relations matter in peacekeeping. Asking what makes the implementation of peacekeeping interventions complex and how complexity is resolved, I find that formal, contractual mechanisms only rarely effectively reduce complexity – and that micro relations fill this gap. Micro relations are personal relationships resulting from frequent face-to-face interaction in professional and – equally importantly – social contexts.
This study offers an explanation as to why micro relations are important for coping with complexity, in the form of a causal mechanism. For this purpose, I bring together theoretical and empirical knowledge: I draw upon the current debate on ‘institutional complexity’ (Greenwood et al. 2011) in organizational institutionalism as well as original empirical evidence from a within-case study of the peacekeeping intervention in Haiti, gained in ten weeks of field research. In this study, scholarship on institutional complexity serves to identify theoretical causal channels which guide empirical analysis. An additional, secondary aim is pursued with this mechanismcentered approach: testing the utility of Beach and Pedersen’s (2013) theory-testing process tracing.
Regarding the first research question – what makes the implementation of peacekeeping interventions
complex –, the central finding is that complexity manifests itself in the dual role of organizations as cooperation partners and competitors for (scarce) resources, turf and influence. UN organizations, donor agencies and international NGOs implementing peacekeeping activities in post-conflict environments have chronic difficulty mastering both roles because they entail contradictory demands: effective cooperation requires information exchange, resource and responsibility-sharing as well as external scrutiny, whereas prevailing over competitors demands that organizations conceal information, guard resources, increase relative turf and influence, as well as shield themselves from scrutiny. Competition fuels organizational distrust and friction – and impedes cooperation.
How is this complexity resolved? The answer to this second research question is that deep-seated organizational competition is routinely mediated – and cooperation motivated – in micro relations and micro interaction. Regular, frequent face-to-face interaction between individual organizational members generates social resources that help to transcend organizational distrust and conflict, most importantly familiarity with each other, personal trust and belief in reciprocity. Furthermore, informal conflict mediation and control mechanisms – namely, open discussion, mutual monitoring in direct interaction and social exclusion – enhance solidarity and mutual support. With these findings, this study adds to existing research in three main ways.
First, I offer peacekeeping studies a fresh answer as to how peacekeeping interventions are organized.
Existing studies have a limited analytical focus on UN operations, ‘black-boxed’ as monolithic and bureaucratic organizations that interact with the external environment, mainly through formal, contractual arrangements (e.g. structural integration, partnership agreements as well as joint boards and budgets). In contrast, I show that – in the absence of a well-functioning ‘coordinating bureaucracy’ – UN officials, diplomats, aid workers and human rights professionals working with different organizations self-organize in localized micro structures, which I propose conceptualizing as ‘communities’: social spaces inhabited by specified groups of individuals who are bound together by shared objectives, tasks and means; to resolve common issues, community members interact frequently and meaningfully with each other, often in informal settings.
Adopting the community perspective offers important opportunities for enhancing our understanding of
peacekeeping action and outcomes, as well as knowledge of pathologies and dysfunctions that thwart
peacekeeping effectiveness (e.g. the role of personal-level conflict and capturing by charismatic individuals).
This study thereby adds to the emerging body of research in peacekeeping studies on the role of the individual, which has shown the importance of social interaction and personal networks in the everyday work of interveners.
In her seminal contribution, Autesserre (2014a) finds that interveners are bound by a shared identity due to common goals and the common experience of life in a challenging and dangerous environment, and that they consequently socialize almost exclusively with each other. I provide empirical support for these findings from a peacekeeping site that has been largely neglected, namely Haiti, and build explanatory knowledge, firmly grounded in organizational institutionalism.
Second, this study feeds into the social sciences debate on process tracing by adding to the few rigorous applications of Beach and Pedersen’s theory-testing variant of this methodology. I argue that this approach allows for classic theory testing only in rare cases. In this study I show, however, that it can be used for theory refinement and elaboration: with its systematic attention to causal mechanisms, process tracing allows for the development of comprehensive explanations, as distinct from parsimonious explanations, along with the context in which they operate. This is the analytical value-added of process tracing to case study methods, in contrast to purely deductive case study methods such as the co-variation approach and congruence analysis, which aim to establish correlation.
Third, I contribute to scholarship on institutional complexity by showing that complexity does not only
manifest itself in competing ‘institutional logics’. Rather than only in competing values and ideas about
organizational roles and tasks, institutional pressures can also be rooted in more mundane operational demands, rendering complexity a mundane fact of organizational life. Furthermore, the empirical analysis shows that, in addition to the original notion of organizational-level ‘strategic responses’ to institutional complexity outlined by Oliver (1991) and further discussed by Pache and Santos (2010), explanations must incorporate the everyday,
micro-level dimension of this phenomenon. Only by accounting for the micro practices whereby individuals harness micro relations to develop and negotiate legitimate behavior and action can we fully understand how institutional contradictions are mediated.
This study concludes that the finding of the importance of informal communities has important practical
implications, but that from a normative perspective informal interaction and exchanges are fraught with