Phd thesis

Doctoral dissertations at ISPK: International Relations, Strategic Studies and Terrorism Studies


At ISPK, researchers as well as fellows complete their dissertations. Their projects are mostly within ISPK's current research focus.

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The following projects are currently under way: 

Beyer, Andreas: "Energy Infrastructure and Finance in the People's Republic of China and the US"

The U.S. and the People's Republic of China (PRC) are the world's biggest power generators, electrical grid operators, energy users – and polluters. Without their participation and assent, there will be no international accord about emissions reduction and renewable energy. Most Political Science / International Relations (IR) work on this problem consequently focuses on IR or regime theory analysis of some type of international emissions reduction accord / treaty. Energy security and geopolitics has also been a mainstay of the debate.

This however moves both the academic and public policy debate further away from its subject – the actual energy infrastructure on the ground (generation plants, electrical grids etc.) and treats these assets only by vague reference and aggregate data. 

This thesis tries to make up for this shortcoming and move empirically closer to the issue at hand: Both the US and the PRC have massively upgraded their generation capacity in general, among them renewables. Yet both countries – the PRC especially – struggle with reducing their emissions in general despite repeated commitment by political leaders and investing financial resources. Hence, this thesis tackles the subject bottom-up and asks: First, what is the the shape of the PRC's and the US energy infrastructure and how are they institutionally embedded into the political economy set-up of each case? Second, how are the respective financial markets structured and how do they finance the massive investments necessary to re-orient their energy infrastructure towards a less emissions-intensive path? Third, how are the energy infrastructure and financial markets in each case connected – why do both cases struggle with renewing and re-orienting their energy infrastructure despite obviously massive financial investments in new capacities? This approach ensures a close look at the technical issues prevalent when actually running an electricity grid / energy infrastructure and how its restructuring is financed.

The thesis employs an explicitly interdisciplinary approach and uses analytical foils and literature from both technical energy infrastructure analysis and economics. Alltogether, it is a political economy approach. Its database consists mostly of official statistics and corporate publications (e.g. 20-F filings) as well as the extensive literature about some aspects of the cases (e.g. Chinese financial markets). 

Bruns, Sebastian: U.S. Navy Strategy & American Sea Power from "The Maritime Strategy" (1982-1986) to "A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower" (2007): Politics, Capstone Documents, and Major Naval  Operations 1981-2011. (finished)

The study analyses the role of maritime power in U.S. foreign and security policy from the 1980s to today. To that end, it employs the declaratory naval strategies which the U.S. Navy published during that period. There are more than 30 documents which outline in principle how the Navy seeks to make a difference in current and upcoming conflicts. The dissertation also reflects the respective political and geostrategic context, the evolution of various documents, broader and specific strategic and doctrinal ideas, as well as the force structure. The study is embedded in a discussion of sea power as an American concept.

Seidler, Felix: NATO's Challenges at Sea 1991-2011: Strategic Developments and the Effectivenes of NATO's Efforts. 

From a Strategic Studies perspective, this study aims to answer the question how effective NATO has been in dealing with different naval and maritime challenges. Therefore, the study will analyse the Atlantic Alliance's environment, its policies and the efforts that have been undertaken. This will be the first detailed presentation of this topic since 1987.

Horlohe, Thomas: “U.S. Nuclear Strategy after the Cold War – Structure, developments, and perspectives”

Though nuclear weapons and nuclear strategy dropped from the national security agenda, they have not disappeared. This research project inquires into the United States’ nuclear strategy and how it might develop from here on. Research on U.S. Nuclear Strategy after the Cold War is done by employing a  differentiated structural model. U.S. Nuclear Strategy is explained as a subject matter composed of several elements evolving with a fair degree of autonomy but dynamically interacting at the same time. The study focuses on the political and governmental processes producing nuclear strategy, to account for continuity, change and characteristics of U.S. Nuclear Strategy and in order to forecast its future development. The study makes use of the relevant scientific literature on U.S. security policy as well as U.S. government publications. Neither quantitative methods nor interviews will be used.

Haas, Michael: "Bearing the Trident: The United States‘ System of Transoceanic Power Projection in Ascendancy and Crisis“ (working title)

The dissertation project investigates the origins of the United States’ system of transoceanic power projection and its dynamic adaptation as a result of external threat developments and domestic strategy-making processes during the Cold War era. At the heart of the project is the link between military capability brought to bear over distance and the maintenance of a hegemonic security order, against the backdrop of long-term strategic rivalries between the U.S. as the leader of a global maritime system and its continental adversaries. The project is rooted in the historical-analytical approach in Strategic Studies and in neoclassical realist theory, and relies mainly on intensive process-tracing and structured, focused comparison within a longitudinal design.

Stoehr, Florian: "Germany’s Security Community: Actors, networks and activities " 

The study analyses the composition of Germany’s security community. Based on the theoretical work on strategic cultures and elites, the author identifies the leading personnel of important security institutions and organizations in Germany (2001-2013), and formalizes them by an actor-centric network analysis. After characterizing the network and its dialogue forums, the author conducts interviews with selected actors and illustrates their activities in the community and the public.  


Cover Jahrbuch Terrorismus

Jahrbuch Terrorismus

Das Jahrbuch enthält eine umfangreiche Datensammlung sowie Analysen zu terroristischen Brennpunkten.

Link zur aktuellen Ausgabe


Cover Routledge

Routledge Handbook of Naval Strategy and Security

This new handbook provides a comprehensive overview of the issues facing naval strategy and security in the twenty-first century.

Link to the publication


Cover Assessing Chinas...

Assessing China's Naval Power

Technological Innovation, Economic Constraints, and Strategic Implications.

Link to the book


Cover Maritime Security Eastern Mediterranean

Maritime Security in the Eastern Mediterranean

Kiel International Seapower Symposium 2017.
This book provides fresh perspectives on the geopolitics of the Eastern Mediterranean and its geoeconomics

Link to the book