Research Portfolio Post 7: Qualitative Data Sources

The dependent variable (DV) that I intend to use is state fragility. As per the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), state fragility can be understood as “the combination of exposure to risk and insufficient coping capacity of the state, system and/or communities to manage, absorb or mitigate those risks.”[1]

State fragility is measured by the OECD as well in an annual report and index entitled the “Fragile States Index” which measures the capacity of countries to protect against fragility through a variety of indicators like economic development.[2]However, it can be argued that consistently high ratings on the state fragility index, or high fragility, can also be the product of socio-political factors. As I have discussed previously, factors such as female political empowerment also play a significant role in the ability of states to recover from fragile conditions, especially those in post-conflict periods.

Due to this, the data source that I believe will be useful in investigating state fragility is a report produced by the CIA’s Political Instability (State Failure) Task Force.[3]The State Failure Task Force was set up by the Central Intelligence Agency to look at state fragility or, in some cases, even failure through the lens of socio-economic and political indicators, and attempt to ascertain patterns regarding the same.[4]

The report puts forward its own variables like rates of literacy, particularly adult female literacy, and population vulnerability, which I will be basing the operationalisation of my dependent variable on.[5]By doing so, I believe that it will allow my DV to have a more well-rounded foundation for analysis. I intend to measure my DV through the range of values provided by the FSI and place them into “high”, “moderate” or “low” fragility levels, to make for more accurate analysis or comparison. [6]

While I have not narrowed down on what specific cases I would like to investigate, I intend to look at the variation in levels of state fragility across countries with similar backgrounds in conflict.

[1]“Poverty, instability and violence in fragile states,” Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, accessed October 26, 2019,

[2]“Fragile States Index 2019”, Fund for Peace, October 18, 2019.

[3]Central Intelligence Agency. 1999. State Failure Task Force Report: Phase III Findings (1999). (Accessed October 26, 2019)



[6]“Fragile States Index 2019”, Fund for Peace, October 18, 2019.

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  1. Hello comrade,

    I would be interested to see if political and economic factors weigh heavily into the state fragility equation. For example, do communist governments and economic systems, as a whole, have greater or less stability than democracies and open market systems. I am interested to see if, via case study research, this can bare any new information or trends. Once again, nice job and remember organisation is spelled with an [s].

  2. Paroma — overall a very good job here examining primary source data that is relevant to the operationalization of your DV and to establishing the value of the DV in the cases that you choose to analyze. Case selection is of course closely linked to the DV in case study research, so make sure to think carefully about the specific case outcomes that you would propose to compare and explain (remembering that the eventual research question in this methodology should focus on the specific cases and the known outcomes — the precise events — that you are proposing to explain (e.g. “why did Kennedy pursue a transformative strategy and Johnson a non-transformative strategy in Vietnam?” to use the Saunders article as an example). Keep thinking about these things, along with the good suggestion from Tristan, as you continue your research!

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