Research Project C9 - Aid, Minds, Hearts: A Longitudinal Study of Governance Interventions in Afghanistan

Principal Investigator:
Jul 01, 2010 — Dec 31, 2017

The project asks under which conditions the presence of external actors and their interaction with community and district level actors leads to effective and legitimate governance in North East Afghanistan. The project continues a longitudinal study of the impact of military and civil interventions on peace- and state-building processes in North East Afghanistan over the twelve-year funding period of the SFB 700. This study is based on a mixed method approach, combining qualitative guideline interviews, fieldwork and case studies with quantitative household surveys which will be repeated in 2015 and 2017 during the third funding period of the SFB. The Afghan case represents an “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity for researchers to observe in real-time and in the field the impact of external policies on state-building and the dynamics of social order, and thus, to evaluate the SFB’s overall research question concerning the scope and conditions of effective and legitimate governance in areas of limited statehood (Rahmenantrag C.1.1/2).The US led Operation Enduring Freedom and the subsequent international engagement (ISAF,UNAMA) was a fundamental “game changer” for Afghanistan (2001-2002). The collapse of the Taliban state left the country without a government and meaningful state structures. Statehood as well as governance was local – or regional at best – with little legitimacy and rudimentary capacities (effectiveness) only. The international military and civilian intervention had to fill the void offering both state-like capacities and governance and from 2003 onwards while also assisting the Afghan government in developing state and governance capacities. The result was an intervention society – a hybrid structure – only partly independent and relying massively on external support (see Daxner et al. 2010). In 2014 this will all change. The Afghan Government will assume full sovereignty for both civilian governance and the provision of security. But is it up to the task? To what extent will it be able to offer effective and legitimate governance to its population? And will its capacity suffice to ensure a minimum of stability (stable social order)?

In our research in Period I and II we noted significant regional and local variance regarding the modes of governance provision in North-East Afghanistan. We suppose that this observed variance is linked to differences in the effectiveness and legitimacy of governance in the research region. In line with the third central research objective of the SFB 700, in Period III we thus (1) intend to understand how the empirically observed variance in the quality and modes of governance emerges and how these differences lead to different outcomes regarding the legitimacy and effectiveness of governance. (2) In a subsequent step we will then explore how different degrees and forms of legitimacy and effectiveness of governance impact on the stability of social order. Ultimately we thus seek to understand the link between the quality of governance and the stability of social order in a conflict setting.


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