'Bumps in the Road Ahead': How External Actors Defuse Power-Sharing Crises

Alison McCulloch* (Corresponding Author), Joanne McEvoy

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
11 Downloads (Pure)


Power-sharing is a governance approach favoured by external actors for building state capacity and legitimacy in post-conflict societies. Yet it can be unstable and crisis-prone, compelling external actors to guide cross-community cooperation. Why and how do external actors seek to maintain power-sharing and prevent its collapse when operational difficulties emerge? We explore the distinction between ‘light touch’ and ‘heavy hand’ techniques and the motivations of external actors in defusing power-sharing crises. We find a trade-off between the short-term value of crisis management (‘putting out fires’) and the long-term objectives of sustainable local arrangements and external exit (local actors ‘going it alone’).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)216-235
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Intervention and Statebuilding
Issue number2
Early online date8 Oct 2018
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2019


  • power-sharing
  • external actors
  • peacebuilding
  • consociationalism
  • political crisis
  • Power-sharing


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