Publication Date


Document Type


Committee Members

Liam Anderson, Ph.D. (Committee Chair); Carlos Costa, Ph.D. (Committee Member); Vaughn Shannon, Ph.D. (Committee Member)

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Despite the pervasive trend in civil war of multiple sponsors backing rebels or the government, there is surprisingly minimal analysis on how the balance of support influences conflict duration. Building on the research of Sawyer et al. (2017), who find that the “fungibility” of external support leads to longer civil war, this thesis contributes a new scoring method for analyzing the balance of “fungible” (hereafter “convertible”) support among combatants (rebels versus government), discovering that a balance of convertibility contributes to shorter conflict. Convertible resources are those that combatants manipulate to enhance their warfighting capacity, such as funding, while troops or territory are less convertible since combatants can only use them in a specific context. A balance of convertible forces likely contributes to shorter conflict because both sides recognize the reduced likelihood of victory. Policymakers should thus carefully evaluate the support given to the opposition of the recipient they are backing.

Page Count


Department or Program

Department of Political Science

Year Degree Awarded