Methodology and research design

This book investigates the process of democratic transformation of armed forces in hybrid orders and generates a middle-range theory of civil-military relations and global governance in hybrid orders. It advances our understanding of the strategies and main determinants of change. The problem that this book deals with is that of the impact of institutional reforms promoted by international actors such as the EU, UN or the United States on the processes of democratic development in insecure and transitional states. Despite considerable international, financial and institutional support, the security environment in fragile countries, such as Pakistan, continues to remain volatile, while democratisation processes continue to be ambiguous. An in-depth examination of the underpinnings of the institutional transition will contribute to a better understanding of the impact of international support in hybrid orders. International support often occurs via local actors, such as civil society organisations (CSOs), or through financial incentives. The conditions that facilitate or hinder more effective democratisation outcomes as well as the intervening factors in the processes of military change and transformation are also examined. The study of change and transformation of armed forces and civil-military relations is sine qua non for the conceptualisation of democratisation processes envisaged by the international actors pursuing global stabilisation and institutional development in their grand strategies.

Institutions are defined broadly as “recognized patterns of behaviour or practice” (Mearsheimer 1994/95: 8), e.g. “habits, norms, customs, rules, or laws” (Redmond 2005: 501), and can have soft and hard forms. Military democratic change, transformation or adaptation refers to the shifts or processes of adjustment at both institutional and behavioural or attitudinal levels. The processes of military change and transformation are estimated based on the perceived changes in military strategy, doctrine and practice. This is done by examining specifically the perceived military preferences for democratic peace and security approaches. Second, the military’s relationship with civilian actors is used as an indicator that can tell us something about the changes in civil-military relations. This is assessed by examining the interaction between armed forces and civilians such as non-governmental

52 Methodology and research design

organisations, the government, media, academia or international actors. Local actors refer to non-state groups and CSOs that can exert influence on social or political processes. The majority of local organisations, but not all, are funded by international organisations or donors. Civil society actors are anticipated to exert influence by enhancing input and output legitimacy and fostering accountability and the transfer of power to democratic government structures (‘elite parting’). Several intervening factors are anticipated to influence the nature of interaction between military and civilian actors: strategies of the civilian actors, changes in the political culture, the institutional framework (including political parties and leadership) and the media.

In this book, democracy is applied in the sense of a modern understanding of democracy, encompassing both participation (input legitimacy) and system effectiveness (output legitimacy) components.


Table 5.1 presents the data used for the empirical analysis. The data were collected by the author in four sample regions in Pakistan: Islamabad, Lahore, Karachi and Peshawar. The analysed sample encompasses 40 survey-based responses and 53 in-depth semi-structured interviews with: representatives of the Pakistani military, mainly retired personnel, ranking from Colonel to Lieutenant General; international and domestic non-state actors, i.e. NGOs and think tanks; academia, i.e. senior researchers; media; the government of Pakistan, inter alia, current or former federal or provincial ministers and a high-level member of the Senate; and representatives or leaders of political parties.

The survey contained both closed and open questions. Different sets of questions were used for the three main categories of participants: (1) NGOs and think tanks (local actors)1; (2) the military; (3) researchers, journalists, representatives/leaders of political parties or government officials (see Annex 3). The closed questions enabled a better quantification of the answers and a focused approach on the puzzle investigated in this book. The open questions allowed us to explore and find out why some things happened as

Table 5.1 Descriptive Statistics of the Data Used for the Empirical Analysis

Data Type



Semi-Structured Expert Interviews


Government, media or academia



NGOs and think tanks









they did. The data points generated on the basis of the answers to the survey were complemented by the data points generated on the basis of the narrative semi-structured interviews.

Benefits of using survey and interview data

Using both survey responses and narrative interviews increased the robustness of the findings. Rigorous methodologies gain particular importance in the contemporary international order dominated by complex uncertainty. Survey responses and in-depth semi-structured interviews have a high potential for complementarity. The survey allowed for the collection of key information, e.g. demographic data, to estimate the parameters of interest in this research. The in-depth interviews contained a much smaller number of broader questions. The narrative interviews allowed the participants to make unprompted references. The interview transcripts or written notes, as in some cases recording was not permitted, were then coded into a priori or a posteriori thematic categories relevant for this research.

The survey questions were standardised according to the participant group, i.e. the military, CSOs or government/academia/media. There were three different sets of questions in total. The questions aimed at capturing the estimation and perception of the three groups with regard to:

  • • The evolution of civil-military relations.
  • • The nature of civil-military interaction, i.e. formal, informal, repeated interaction, tense or other.
  • • Approaches towards democratic institutional change and democratic security governance.
  • • Strategies of engagement, particularly NGOs’ strategies of engagement with the military.
  • • Area of operation, i.e. geographic area and policy domain.
  • • Level of operation, e.g. policy level (Track 1.5), middle level (Track 2) or grassroots level (Track 3).

In the case of the survey, the participants could choose from several available answers with simple or multiple choices and had the possibility to provide additional comments for each question in a comment field.

The in-depth interviews had a semi-structured format, allowing participants to narrate or to describe, based on their experience. It was assumed that their experience consisted of factual sequences and perceptions and that they will focus on key political decisions and events, which had a particular importance for them. This gave agency to the interview participants on the provided details. The open-question design has ensured truthful answers and avoided the situation in which the participants would feel compelled to provide certain answers, particularly in the case of NGOs, out of fear that their answers might trigger retaliation from the military, government or donor agencies. Inferences with regard to the variables of interests were made based on their answers.

Given that the topic of this research might count as sensitive, a series of techniques were used to elicit truthful answers during the conduction of both surveys and interviews:

  • • Protection of privacy - all survey responses were conducted anonymously, i.e. no details related to personal data or to the name of the organisation were asked.
  • • Indirect questioning - questions were formulated as to refer to the average group, not the organisation or a person in particular. For example, it was asked “What is the greatest challenge of the military/NGOs in Pakistan?”
  • • Usage of neutral and non-leading wording. For example, it was asked “How would you describe the evolution of civil-military relations post-Musharraf?”
  • • For some of the survey questions, multiple choice options were included in the set of answers. The option “don’t know”/“other” and the possibility to make additional comments were also included.
  • • Respondent validation techniques were employed during the narrative interviews.
  • • Test-retest techniques (e.g. asked the same question twice in different ways) were integrated in the survey design to ensure stability of the answers.
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