n African Journal on Conflict Resolution - Agency Theory : a new model of Civil-Military relations for Africa?

Volume 7, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1562-6997


In this paper I assess a new approach to Civil-Military relations, Peter Feaver's 'Agency Theory'. After demonstrating that this theory offers important advances against the standard approaches to the topic exemplified by Huntington and Janowitz, I then turn to a consideration of the applicability of the theory in the African context. Feaver himself is pessimistic about the value of his theory in a context where there is not an established culture of submission to civilian rule among military forces, and where coups are a real danger. I argue, however, that even under these conditions Agency Theory remains extremely valuable as an analytic tool. I argue further that Feaver has not recognised the potential benefits that regional organisations offer to civilian principals in their goal of ensuring military obedience, even where a tradition of military professionalism does not exist.

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