Democratization in Conflict Studies: How Conceptualization Affects Operationalization and Testing Outcomes

41 Pages Posted: 9 Jun 2016

See all articles by Michael Bernhard

Michael Bernhard

University of Florida

Omer Orsun

Harvard University

Resat Bayer

Koc University

Date Written: June 2016

Abstract

Using the debate over democratization and conflict, we demonstrate how the connection between conceptualization and operationalization can play a decisive role in the testing of falsifiable hypotheses. We discuss seven different operationalizations of regime change based on three different conceptualizations of democracy. Although we find high correlations between different measures of democracy, when they are used to capture regime change the correlations drop precipitously. In multivariate estimations of the effect of regime change on a range of conflict variables, we generate widely disparate results, providing no consistent support that democratization affects conflict. We thus demonstrate that decisions about conceptualization and subsequent operationalization have decisive impact on the inference we produce. In contrast, our controls for the effect of institutionalized democracy consistently show a negative relationship between joint democracy and conflict. Finally, autocratic regime change seems to be more robustly correlated with a range of conflict behaviors than heretofore recognized in this literature.

Suggested Citation

Bernhard, Michael and Orsun, Omer and Bayer, Resat, Democratization in Conflict Studies: How Conceptualization Affects Operationalization and Testing Outcomes (June 2016). V-Dem Working Paper 2016:31, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2791982 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2791982

Michael Bernhard (Contact Author)

University of Florida ( email )

Omer Orsun

Harvard University ( email )

1737 CAMBRIDGE ST INSTITUTE FOR
QUANTITATIVE SOCIAL SCIENCE
CAMBRIDGE, MA 02138
United States

Resat Bayer

Koc University ( email )

Rumelifeneri Yolu
34450 Sariyer
Istanbul
Turkey
902123381551 (Phone)

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