IPTI’s research report Supporting or Resisting Change: Elite Strategies in War to Peace and Political Transitions
16 June 2019
"IPTI’s newly published research report Supporting or Resisting Change: Elite Strategies in War to Peace and Political Transitions, funded by UK Aid from the UK Government, investigates the strategies elite actors apply in order to influence political change in support of or in resistance to political change processes, i.e. the objectives they pursue, and the approaches they use in order to achieve them. To this end, it reconstructs the patterns of elite behavior across 43 peace and transition processes from IPTI’s qualitative database. Below are the key findings:
The report identifies four principal approaches through which elites aim to influence political change:
- Elites negotiate between conflicting positions, i.e. they engage in efforts to resolve dispute through arriving at a common position, characterized by an overarching ethos of reciprocity.
- Elites influence political views, i.e. the manner in which the conflict and possible solutions to it are portrayed and perceived by
key stakeholders in the conflict.
- Elites shape the setting of the transition in which the negotiation process takes place, i.e. the design of the peace process including who participates through which means as well as the parameters of the larger political context.
- Elites undermine the process or existing settlement, i.e. they deliberately obstruct or derail the negotiation process or an existing political settlement through violent or non-violent means.
Elites apply these four principal approaches at various stages along a given peace or transition process, in order to change the formal political arrangement in their favor. The report identifies five distinct phases of transition that are characterized through critical moments in which elites can influence political change. For each phase, the report identifies two major clusters in which elites can be differentiated, depending on their interests and objectives. Clusters change from phase to phase as the overarching
objectives of elites change. They also have a fluctuating membership, even within a phase, as elites move between clusters depending on their changing objectives.