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Prof. Dr. Aurel Croissant - Research



Ongoing research projects

Completed research projects



Political Roles of the Military (PRM) Dataset

The Political Roles of the Military (PRM) Data Set contains information on 120 democratic and autocratic countries and a total of 138 regime spells for the period 1999–2012. PRM provides data on military influence aggregated across regime spells as two ordinal indices, military ruler and supporter. The data set also  includes single indicators and raw data for own calculations.

Aurel Croissant, Tanja Eschenauer, Jil Kamerling. "Militaries’ Roles in Political Regimes: Introducing the PRM Data Set", in European Political Science,  2016.

PRM Dataset (.zip format)

PRM Dataset Codebook (.pdf)


Ongoing research projects

Dictator's Endgame. Theory and empirical analysis of military behav-ior in authoritarian regime crises, 1946-2014

David Kuehn and Aurel Croissant, funded by Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG), October 2015-September 2018

This 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, we advance the concept of “dictator’s endgame”, and devel-op 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. We test the model’s explanatory power 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. Publication goals are three peer-reviewed articles in A-ranked international journals and an English-language monograph. All original data will be made publicly available after the end of the project period.

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.


Self-Regulation in the Context of Electoral Authoritarian Rule – Civil society in Malaysia and Singapore in Comparative Perspective

This project is funded by the Excellence Inititative of the University of Heidelberg and is part of the Field of Focus 4 program. The main concern of Field of Focus 4 is to better understand human (self-)regulation processes in interdisciplinary dialogue. This project examines the relationship between the type of political regime and the formation, development and forms of cooperation of civil society actors in two Southeast Asian electoral authoritarian countries, Malaysia and Singapore. Since the independence, these two autocratic countries are governed by a ruling party. Both societies are characterized by strong cultural, religious, and economic cleavages as well as ethnic diverse populations. Besides these similarities, the two autocratic regimes practise different forms of regulation with regard to the space for civil society actors. This study adresses three research questions:

  1. What kind of civil society actors did emerge in Malaysia and Singapore since their independence and in how far is this related to forms of state regulation?
  2. What kind of ideological, cultural, and strategic factors influence forms of cooperation between civil society actors?
  3. What does that mean for the persistence of the autocratic regime?

This project combines qualitiative methods of political science with those of cultural studies. The aim of the project is to gain new insights into forms of self-regulation in the context of electoral authoritarian rule.

For more information, please see the Field of Focus 4 homepage.


Bertelsmann Transformation Index (BTI)

Since 2004, The BTI is published every two years by the Bertelsmann Stiftung.  The project analyzes development and transformation processes toward democracy and a market economy in international comparison. To be updated every two years, the Transformation Index BTI provides a ranking that combines qualitative, in-depth evaluations with quantitative scores for the performance of 128 developing and transition countries. The BTI measures the current state of democracy and market economy in a given country, its evolution over the past two years and the quality of governance performed by its leadership. The data collected will contribute to the development of strategy recommendations for the political management of transformation.

I have been involved in this project since the early 2000s as member of the academic advisory board of the BTI and as regional coordinator for the region “Asia and Oceania). In this, I closely collaborated with a large number of national and international scholars, such as:  Nasreen Ghufran (Department of International Relations, Peshawar University, Peshawar), Ali Riaz (Illinois State University); Mada Sukmajati (Gadjah Mada Universiti Yogyakarta), Richard Whitecross (University of Edinburgh), Maria Morgan (Naval Postgraduate School Monterey); Bob Sugeng Hadiwinata (Parahyangan Catholic Universiti); Peou Sorpong (The University of Winnipeg); James Chin (Monash University Kuala Lumpur); Martin Stuart Fox (The University of Queensland, Bisbane); Geir Helgesen (Nordic Institute of Asian Studies); Edward Olsen (Naval Postgraduate School Monterey); Henry Okole (University of PNG, Port Moresby); Julio Teehankee (De La Salle University, Philippines); Neil DeVotta (Wake Forest University, Winstom-Salem); Chandra de Silva (Old Dominion University, Norfolk); Napisa Waitkoleet (Payap University Chiang Mai); Paul Chambers (Payap University Chiang Mai);  Jörn Dosch (Monash University Kuala Lumpur); Ta Minh Tuan (Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam, Hanoi); Marcus Mietzner (Australian National University, Canberra); Win Min (Vahu Development Institute, Chiang Mai); Mark Turner (University of Canberra); Sophal Ear     (Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey); Simon Creak (Kyoto University); Sara Shneiderman (Princeton University); Park Hyeong Jung (Korea Institute for National Unification, Seoul); Narayaran Ganesan (Hiroshima Peace Institute, Hiroshima City University); Stephan Ortmann (City University Hong Kong); Sang-young Rhyu (Yonsei University) and Smruti Pattanaik (Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, New Delhi), among others.
The Bertelsmann Transformation Index 2014 is currently in progress. We expect the results to be made available to the public in November 2013.

For more information, please see the BTI project homepage.

Sustainable Governance Indicators

Employing both qualitative and quantitative research methods, the Sustainable Governance Indicators (SGI) identify effective policy-making strategies throughout the OECD, with printed and online reports aimed at interested citizens, the media and policy practitioners alike. The project was developed as a complement to the Bertelsmann Transformation Index, which documents good governance practices in 128 countries in transition. Both projects are guided by the vision of Bertelsmann Stiftung founder Reinhard Mohn, who believed in the importance of identifying good practices by means of systematic comparison, allowing individuals around the world to learn from one another's experiences. The third round of the SGI (2014) will begin in May 2013.

Linked to the SGI research is the research on Sustainable Governance in the BRICS Countries ( that has been launched in late 2012 and a special report on Sustainable Governance in Asia as well. I have been involved as coordinator and member of the academic advisory board of the SGI in these projects since the beginning. This gave me the opportunity to cooperate and publish with international leading scholars on governance in Australia, New Zealand, and a number of Asian countries. This group of researchers include Thomas Kalinowski (Ehwa Women’s University Seoul); Ian McAllister (Australian National University, Canberra); Roger Wilkins (University of Melbourne); Claudia Scott (Victoria University of Wellington); Ujjwal Kumar Singh (University of Delhi); Yasheng Huang (MIT); Edmund Terence Gomez (University of Malaysia); Jon T S Quah (National University Singapore); Carl Thayer and Vedi Hadiz (Murdoch University).

For further information, please refer to the SGI project homepage.



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Completed research projects

Democratic Transformation and Civilian Control of the Military: A configurative comparison of new democracies (1974-2010)

This study is funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) and examines the establishment of civilian control over the military in new democracies in order to answer two research questions: (1) Which structural factors affect the chances for institutionalizing civilian control in new democracies? (2) Which strategies do civilian actors employ to make the military accept civilian control? Theoretical point of departure is the model of civil-military relations developed in the preceding project which argues that civilian control depends on reducing the military’s capacity and disposition to encroach onto the elected officials’ effective power to decide in relevant policy areas. This is the more likely if the structural context in which civil-military interactions take place provides sufficient resources for civilians to employ robust strategies of control which deeply intrude into the military’s autonomous sphere of influence. The hypotheses derived from the model will be tested in a mixed methods research design that combines a configurative-comparative fuzzy-set analysis of 84 new democracies of the “third wave of democratization” (1974-2010) with short narrative studies of eight systematically selected cases. At the core of the empirical analysis rests the development of an original dataset of civil-military relations in the “third wave democracies”. As of now, there is neither a comparable dataset nor any comparative study of this kind. The project, therefore, promises to deliver significant theoretical and empirical insights. Publication goals of the project are a peer-reviewed article in an international journal and an English-language monograph. All data will be made publicly available after the end of the project period.


International Workshop-Conference “Varieties of Autocracy – Institutions, Performance and Survival”, Heidelberg University, March 2-4, 2012

Stefan Wurster (Heidelberg University) and I organized this conference which was funded by the Fritz-Thyssen-Foundation in order to discuss and analyze three research questions:

  1. Which types of authoritarian rule can be differentiated, and how can they be operationalized and measured?
  2. According to what specific logic do authoritarian regimes function, and which role do the dominant institutional, procedural, and ideological conditions play in this? Which policy performance do different types of authoritarian rule feature, and are there different economic, social, or environmental outcomes?
  3. How can the persistence of authoritarian states be explained? What are the specific survival strategies of autocracies, and what role does policy performance play in this?

The conference broad together a number of pertinent scholars in the field of authoritarianism and democracy research, such as Jennifer Gandhi; Edeltraud Roller; Carl Henrik Knutsen; James W. McGuire; Jörg Faust; Wolfgang Merkel; Jeffrey Pickering; Jan Teorell; Steffen Kailitz; Andreas Schedler; Jeffrey Haynes; Ronald Wintrobe; Manfred G. Schmidt; Julia Bader and Oliver Schlumberger.

The conference proceedings have been published as a special issue of the peer-reviewed journal Contemporary Politics (19:1) in February (online) and April (print) 2013.


International Workshop-Conference “Addressing the Structure-Agency Divide in the Study of Civil-Military Relations in Democratizing Asia”, 14-15 October 2010, Heidelberg University

In October 2010, I organized a research workshop on ““Addressing the Structure-Agency Divide in the Study of Civil-Military Relations in Democratizing Asia” with financial support from the Fritz-Thyssen-Foundation. At the workshop, 14 scholars from nine countries (Thomas C. Bruneau, Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey; David Pion-Berlin, University of California, Riverside,  Helena Carreiras, Department of Sociology and CIES, ISCTE – Lisbon; Marcus Mietzner, ANU; Renato Cruz de Castro, International Studies Department, De La Salle University, Manila; Paul Chambers, David Kuehn, Siegfried Wolf and Philip Völkel, all Heidelberg University; Smruti S. Pattanaik The Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, New Dehli; York Chen, Tamkang University, Tamsui; Ukrist Pathmanand, Chulalongkorn University; and Rhyu Sang-young, Yonsei University) discussed methodological, empirical and theoretical issues in the study of civil-military relations in emerging democracies in East, South and Southeast Asia.

The conference proceedings have been published as a thematic issue of the peer-reviewed Asian Journal of Political Science (19:3).


Public Forum and International Workshop“Civil-Military Relations and Democratic Stress: Lessons from Indonesia, the Philippines, and Burma/Myanmar”, 1 September 2009, Bangkok.

Organized by Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, Bangkok; Institute for Strategic and International Studies (ISIS), Bangkok, and Institute of Political Science, Heidelberg University. In September 2009, I co-organized an international workshop and public forum on civil-military relations in Asia, sponsored by FES and ISIS. Thai and foreign scholars such as Charas Suwanmala (Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok) , Thitinan Pongsudhirak (ISIS, Bangkok); Suchit Bunbongkarn; Paul Chambers (Heidelberg University/Payap University, Chiang Mai), Win Min (Payap University); Herman Joseph Kraft, University of the Philippines); Rizal Sukma (CSIS Jakarta) deliberated on the role of the military in Asian societies.

The conference proceedings and additional articles were published in the edited volume "Democracy under Stress. Civil-military relations in South and Southeast Asia", Bangkok: ISIS.


International Conference-Workshop “Challenges and Prospects of Democratic Governance in Southeast Asia”, 15-18 January 2009, Heidelberg University

With financial support of the Fritz-Thyssen-Foundation, I organized a conference on the state of democratic governance in Southeast Asia at Heidelberg University that brought together scholars from Germany (Marco Bünte, Aurel Croissant, Claudia Derichs, Jürgen Rüland, Andreas Ufen, Patrick Ziegenhain and Claudia Derichs, Christoph Schuck, Wolfgang Merkel, Hans-Jürgen Puhle), the United States (Allen Hicken, Shin Doh-Chull, Mark Thompson), Switzerland (Heiner Hänggi), Canada (Philippe Régnier), and Australia (Ben Reilly).

Some of the papers presented at the conference and additional manuscripts as well were published as the edited volume "The Crisis of Democratic Governance in Southeast Asia", Basingstoke/New York: Palgrave.


The Cultural Dimensions of Domestic and International Conflicts since 1945 (2008-2009)

The research project on “The Cultural Dimensions of Domestic and International Conflicts since 1945” was conducted for and in cooperation with the Bertelsmann Stiftung Gütersloh by Prof. Dr. Aurel Croissant and Prof. Dr. Uwe Wagschal as well as by Nicolas Schwank, M.A. and Christoph Trinn, M.A. at the Institute of Political Science of the University of Heidelberg from October 2007 to September 2009. On the basis of the CONIS Databank Heidelberg, the project quantitatively and qualitatively analyzed violent and non-violent cultural conflicts in a global perspective. Cultural conflicts are those political conflicts in which culture is the thematic issue, but not necessarily the cause, of the respective conflict. In this context, culture is to be understood as the realm of society which has been constituted in order to generate and preserve a collective identity. Culture especially comprises religion, language, and historicity.

In 2009, the theoretical, statistical as well as case-oriented results were published by Nomos under the title  “Kulturelle Konflikte seit 1945.Die kulturellen Dimensionen des globalen Konfliktgeschehens”, Baden-Baden: Nomos.


Democratic Transformation and Civilian Control of the Military: Comparing New Democracies in Northeast, Southeast, and South Asia (2008-2012)

This study is funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) and examines the relationship of democratic transformation and civil-military relations in seven new democracies in Asia. The research was guided by three interrelated questions: How do new Asian democracies cope with the challenges of institutionalizing civilian control of the military? How successful are they and which factors lead to the observed differences in scope and shape of civilian control? How do the patterns of civil-military relations in these countries affect the quality and chances of democratic consolidation? The project followed a qualitative, two-dimensional comparative approach: First, the development of civil-military relations in seven young democracies of Northeast Asia (South Korea, Taiwan), Southeast Asia (Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand) and South Asia (Bangladesh, Pakistan) were analyzed in country studies and intra-regional comparisons. In a second step, the results were compared in an inter-regional perspective, linking the findings to the general theoretical contexts and the democratization literature.

The project findings were published in the monograph "Democratization and Civilian Control in Asia", Basingstoke: Palgrave McMillan.


Causes of Violent Escalation of Intrastate Conflicts (2011-2012)

This research project, which has been financed within the framework of the Excellence Initiative at Heidelberg University, aims at improving the explanatory power of current approaches in quantitative conflict research. Based on the observation that the findings of empirical analyses of conflict causation can be replicated only to a small extent, as a first step the project layed the theoretical and empirical foundations for systematizing the dependent (conflict escalation) as well as the independent variables (explanatory approaches). The aim of this step was a conflict-type-specific consolidation of theoretical approaches. As a second step, the grouped theories were tested on the basis of a typologized empirical conflict data set, which has been extended to include the subnational level. The project concluded with practically relevant findings with regard to which conflict phenomena are to be assigned to which conflict type and are to be analyzed and explained best by which theoretical approaches.

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