Date of Award

Summer 2015

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Political Science & Geography


Graduate Program in International Studies

Committee Director

David C. Earnest

Committee Member

Kurt T. Gaubatz

Committee Member

Austin Jersild

Committee Member

Jesse Richman


This dissertation investigates the patterns of path dependence in intrastate conflicts. It is motivated by three research questions: What factors determine a particular outcome of a civil war? How strong is their impact? What are the causal mechanisms in play? To examine these questions, this study introduces a theory of path dependence to the study of intrastate conflicts that bridges the gap between analyses of the phases of contention.

First, it examines the broad understanding of path dependence that highlights the impact of initial conditions on civil war outcomes. Then, this dissertation explores the narrower notion which focuses on the role of timing and sequence of internal factors and intervening events in shaping different resolutions to intrastate conflicts. Using multinomial logistic regression and event history models to analyze initial conditions, intrinsic features, and intervening factors in influencing the probability of particular civil war outcomes, this study identifies relevant agencies that can be utilized to shape solutions for current and future instances of armed civil conflicts. Finally, three case studies test the applicability of the path dependence theory through outlining the narratives, incorporating quantitative findings, and identifying causal mechanisms.

The empirical findings of the initial conditions models emphasize the relevance of conflict spillover, non-lootable resources, and structure of bipolarity. An investigation into the factors that ‘lock in’ a particular civil war outcome highlights the role of UN and regional intergovernmental organizations in accelerating a compromise outcome; explains the variation in dynamics behind democratic and autocratic regimes; but surprisingly finds no support for the relationship between the size of the armed forces and conflict outcome. Although case study analysis supports the validity of the empirical results, it also points at the potential limitations of the quantitative design. Since this study follows a mixed methods approach, it effectively compensates for the drawbacks of different types of analysis.


In Copyright. URI: This Item is protected by copyright and/or related rights. You are free to use this Item in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use. For other uses you need to obtain permission from the rights-holder(s).