My research interests can be divided into several different pathways, some originating directly from my dissertation and others that have been discovered throughout the review process and through pedagogical experiences. As a committed peace scholar, my research is often an interdisciplinary endeavor intersecting violent political conflict and interstate rivalry with sustainable peace and political development. I am especially interested in uncovering the processes through which non-state actors involved in conflict, transition into effective political parties, interest groups, and security forces after civil wars end.
The bulk of my current research agenda focuses on the effects of foreign patrons on rebel party development and behavior following negotiated settlements. My central theory argues that foreign sponsorship provides rebels access to political opportunities, overcoming the costs of entry in following a negotiated settlement. However, I also argue that 1) the efficacy of foreign sponsorship especially with regard to external revenues and human capital development differs from patron to patron and 2) foreign patrons pass down behavioral, organizational, and strategic traits to their clients.
Peer-Reviewed Journal Publications
Marshall, Michael C. Forthcoming. “Foreign Rebel Sponsorship: A Patron-Client Analysis of Party Viability after Negotiated Settlements”
Journal of Conflict Resolution
Ishiyama, John and Michael C. Marshall. 2017. “What Explains Former Rebel Party Name Changes after a Civil Conflict Ends? External and Internal Factors and the Transition to Political Competition.” Party Politics 23(4), pp.364–375
Marshall, Michael C. and John Ishiyama. 2016. “Does Transformation of Rebel Organizations into Political Parties Promote Durable Peace?" Democratization 23(6): 1009 - 1025
Ishiyama, John and Michael C. Marshall. 2015. "Candidate Selection and Former Rebel Parties." Party Politics 21(4): 591 - 602
Marshall, Michael C. and John Ishiyama. 2017. “Does Political Inclusion of Rebel Parties Promote Peace after Civil Conflict?” in From Bullets to Ballots: The Transformation of Rebel Groups into Political Parties. Routledge: New York, NY.
Marshall, Mike. “When Patrons become Detractors: Rebel Party Responses to Changes in Foreign Support”
From Venezuela to Libya and Rwanda to Pakistan, democracies have used revolutionary vehicles as a means to destabilize authoritarian foes, spread their values and ideals, and/or install friendly governments. If democracies manage their investments successfully, rebels and their successor parties may provide them immense opportunities to influence national politics of host-client states. Therefore many democracies tie their external support to contracts and have employed transnational advocacy networks to provide oversight of client behavior. Democratic patrons have also become more willing to punish clients through changes to aid disbursement. On the other hand, rebels and their successor parties have their own victory conditions that often collide with the values and interests of their foreign patrons. Chief among these goals is the will to become hegemonic rulers over post-conflict governments, using of lethal repression to consolidate their position after winning elections. Building on a growing literature examining the transformation and governance of rebel successor parties following negotiated peace settlements, this piece asks, why are some rebel parties more prone to lethal repression than others, despite facing similar post-settlement grievances, similar access to the state apparatus, and similar levels of external support. This piece also asks a policy relevant question, are rebel successor parties worthwhile investments or an endless succession of headaches; can democracies control their revolutionary clients? Although previous theories have pointed to path-dependent explanations of rebel decision-making, this piece argues that causality lies with time-specific windows of opportunity provided by a rebel executive’s relationship with both foreign patrons and detractors.
Marshall, Mike. “Rebel In Chief: Understanding the Foreign Policy Choices of Former Rebel Parties in Office.”
From the Peloponnesian Wars of Ancient Greece to the recent civil wars in Syria and Yemen, international power dynamics are often defined by strategic partnerships in proxy conflict. If a power cannot risk subjugating another to its will through warfare alone, states throughout history have relied on rebels as a means of destabilization, installation of friendly governments, and/or injection of their voice into host-client politics. However, in today’s international norms, most proxy conflicts end in negotiated settlements as civil war battlegrounds are replaced with often-tumultuous electoral systems. Therefore both patrons and their clients have a logical interest to sustain their strategic partnerships into post-conflict party systems. This project asks a simple policy-relevant question, why are some strategic sponsorship networks between foreign patrons and former rebel parties better investments than others, despite having similar long-term security interests. This piece argues that the survival of these collective arrangements is dependent upon two-levels of the principal-agent problem. First, rebels strategically engage in agency loss to simplify their partnership networks, reducing the number of foreign constraints on their policy outputs and behaviors. Second, adverse selection is likely tied to the structure of security incentives in the international system, irrespective of a former rebel party’s loyalty to a foreign patron. Using Cox-Proportional Hazard and Bivariate Probit models, this piece finds that strategic partnerships with rebel parties are less likely to survive when rebel perceptions of patron sustainability decrease. Furthermore, although most rebels are reluctant to challenge their patrons, former rebel clients are more likely to violently mobilize in strategic arrangements with democratic patrons.
Ishiyama, John., Mike Marshall, and Brandon Stewart. “Former Rebel Parties and Election Violence in Sub-Saharan Africa”
From the Bharatiya Janata Party in India, to the Kenya African Nation Union to the African National Congress in South Africa, political parties are often implicated in violence during elections. Whether through the instigation of ethnic riots or through mass violence that displaces hundreds of thousands, parties are frequently linked to violence in many states around the world. In this paper, we examine whether former rebel parties are more likely to engage in electoral violence when compared to other parties. In many ways because they have within their ranks members with combat experience and a trained cadre of former fighters, one might expect that that former rebel parties are more likely to rely on violent acts in order to pursue electoral objectives. Given the proximity to the conflict (when members are most likely to “remember” their training and where the political stakes are often higher) we expect that the incentive to use violence should be particularly high in the first elections after the end of a civil conflict. Further, we also suggest that certain types of rebel parties, particularly those that are based more on “resource capture” are more likely to engage in violent acts during elections than those that are based on popular mobilization, and that rebel parties that are ethnically based are more likely to engage in electoral violence than rebel parties that are not ethnically based.
Marshall, Mike. "Vanguardism Revisited: Rebel Parties, Foreign Patrons, and Post - Conflict Democratization"
Recently, there has been an influx in the study of rebel-to-party transformations as well as the implications of their inclusion in post-conflict societies. Similarly, there has been increased emphasis on proxy conflict and the implications of agency in international security. This piece seeks to bridge these two literatures, analyzing the long-term regime effects of including foreign-backed rebel parties in national office at two levels of analysis. First this piece asks, if foreign patrons use former rebel parties as a means of regime replication or as a means of policy projection? Second, this piece asks how does the inclusion of such groups affect individual perceptions of democracy? Using a mixed method approach, this piece finds that including foreign-backed rebel parties in national office increases the likelihood of stunted democratic development and hegemonic-single party rule. Conversely, an analysis of fourteen post-conflict societies in Latin America and Africa find that individual perceptions of democracy dramatically increase as foreign-backed rebels gain a foothold in national office.
Marshall, Mike. “Mergers and Acquisitions: Party Cooptation and Realignment after Civil Wars”
Negotiated settlements to civil wars provide a natural market for de-alignment and realignment as new political parties, ideologies, and voting constituencies emerge from a fog of war and repression. As these groups emerge and the future becomes less certain, the formula for attaining power and security changes as political organizations compete for survival. Although there has been a well-developed literature on the transformation of rebel groups into political parties, there remains a gap in our knowledge of militant acquisitions by established political parties. Why are some militant groups more likely to merge with pre-existing political parties than others, despite similar opportunities for transformation? I argue that party mergers and acquisitions following negotiated settlements are akin to the process of co-optation, as incumbent government parties and opposition non-rebel parties compete for specialized elites and voting constituencies from fracturing rebel movements undergoing disarmament.
Marshall, Mike and Ashley Streat. “Peacekeeping Mandates and Characteristics and Rebel Party Emergence”
Credible commitment is a particularly volatile issue in negotiated settlements, as rebel organizations risk possible annihilation while disarming and reintegrating into society. The lack of security coupled with the prevalence of repression and revenge killing following many settlements has been directly linked to returns to armed struggle. However, the presence of United Nations Peacekeeping Operations (UNPKO) in a post-conflict state has been directly tied to a durable peace and democratization, solidifying credible commitment to a negotiated settlement. The authors argue that different peacekeeping mandates lead to varied rebel outcomes. Although we find that UNPKOs with state-building mandates are associated with increased likelihood of rebel-to-party transformation, we also find that this relationship is not ironclad. Additionally, we find that characteristics of the PKO mission’s staff can actively mitigate the likelihood of rebel party emergence. We examine new variables based on PKO characteristics like the distance the mission is from the capital and the duration of the peacekeeping mandate.