NATO's Post-Cold War Transformation: Exploring Change in Counter-Insurgency, Collective Defence, and Cyber-Security

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis


In 2019 NATO enjoyed its 70th anniversary. During its existence it has had a number of challenges to overcome, none more so than what its function and role would be in the post- Cold War era. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, NATO has embraced former adversaries as members, developed roles beyond collective defence, and engaged in active military operations outside of the Euro-Atlantic area. The thesis posits, utilising third wave institutionalism, that explanation can be given to the transformation of the Alliance, incorporating functions beyond collective defence, by considering the relationship between endogenous and exogenous drivers of change in relation to three case studies. First, the counter-insurgency campaign in Afghanistan undertaken by the NATO ISAF mission, provides evidence of how the Alliance has changed in response to a clear exogenous shock. Second, the return of collective defence after Russia’s annexation of Crimea develops a case study where the exogenous shock occurs after a process of endogenous change had been enacted. Third, the role of the Alliance as a provider of cyber-security, where no clear exogenous shock is present, is examined.

Theoretically, the thesis develops a transformational model, whereby adaptation, institutionalisation, and effectiveness, are considered indicative of a self-reinforcing transformational process that demonstrates, not only that NATO is an actor its own right, but also that the Alliance is a purposive institution. The argument not only provides rich empirical data in relation to each of the three case studies, but provides explanatory power to the existence, and nature of evolution, in NATO after the end of the Cold War.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Birmingham
Award date20 Jul 2020
Place of PublicationBirmingham
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jul 2020


  • NATO
  • counter-insurgency
  • cyber security
  • collective defence
  • institutionalism
  • institutional change
  • adaptation
  • transformation


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