Date of Award

Spring 2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Political Science & Geography


Graduate Program in International Studies

Committee Director

Kurt Taylor Gaubatz

Committee Member

David Earnest

Committee Member

Angela O’Mahony


What must states do to ensure victory on the field of battle? Conventional scholarship claims that a number of material and institutional factors significantly affect a nation’s ability to generate military power. Recent studies suggest that other factors, including levels of education, civil-military relations, and western culture also play an important role. This new line of logic is important because these factors tend to be glaringly absent from rigorous concepts of military power. The principle finding of this study is that culture matters and that it matters more than originally thought. Culture is admittedly complex, intangible, and difficult to count, but empirical evidence shows that culture manifests concrete effects in combat, at times determining battlefield outcomes. Culture’s absence from meaningful definitions of military power results in world leaders, military commanders, and learned scholars making important political, operational, and theoretical decisions with only partial information. Put plainly, decision-makers cannot accurately assess the martial capabilities of themselves or others without accounting for culture. Consequently, national leaders likely perceive threats where none exists; ignore threats that truly matter; place great trust in incapable allies, and turn away competent help. Moreover, this ignorance of what truly matters in combat means that much of a state’s potential military capability remains untapped and left to happenstance.


Additional files include two datasets in Excel spreadsheet format.


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FowlerE-Battle-RelatedDataset-20160302.xlsx (455 kB)
Batle-Related Dataset

FowlerE-Culture-RelatedDataset-20160302.xlsx (338 kB)
Culture-Related Dataset