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Heinkelmann-Wild, Tim ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-2699-6048 and Mehrl, Marius ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-5825-9256 (2021): Indirect Governance at War: Delegation and Orchestration in Rebel Support. In: Journal of Conflict Resolution, Vol. 66, No. 1: pp. 115-143 [PDF, 851kB]


Instead of attacking their adversaries directly, states often do so indirectly by supporting rebel groups. While these support relationships vary considerably, existing research lacks a comprehensive account thereof. To explain states’ choice of support, we suggest differentiating between two modes of support relationships according to the control opportunities they offer states over rebels: while delegation enables “hands-on” control, “hands-off” orchestration allows for plausible deniability and does not harm rebels’ local legitimacy. We argue that sponsors prefer orchestration when “hands-on” control can be substituted by goal alignment or competition; and they prefer delegation when the conflict is highly salient. Tests using global data for the period 1975-2009 support the first two expectations. Surprisingly, states’ capabilities also render “hands-off” orchestration more likely. The paper advances the understanding of external rebel support by transferring insights from indirect governance theory to the study of indirect wars and putting it to statistical test.

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