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Methodology


I intend to use a qualitative method which fits perfectly with my study case as I already have identified crucial actors and policies in the gas and oil market of Azerbaijan and as well as EU who are involved in Nabucco pipeline project. I will study and analyze speeches of head of states, energy ministers and scan newspapers and other contemporary media to see how the interests around Nabucco project were shaped and shifted and how such dynamics led to the failure of the project and what role a small state like Azerbaijan played in that failure. I will analyze its role in a broader context of its energy policy. It is essential to use contemporary media because the events are very recent and fast moving. Blogs, commentary, and media do have their bias, but on the other hand, they are often the only sources available. In addition, multiple sources are consulted to ensure that bias is avoided.

Unlike mainstream political science research on energy politics of South Caucasus, who treats main actors of the ‘new great game’ as the only deciding parties of the game, I argue that in certain matters ‘small’ states has also a ‘say’; in other words, I take the perspective of small states looking at the pipeline politics of the region. That will be my main contribution to the research. And the subject in question is very actual for the decision makers of EU as it can be classified into the ‘lessons learned’; because EU’s unclear stance also played a great role for the final decision on choosing one or the other gas pipeline route.

The main question this research is centered around is how small states can affect transnational plans negatively or positively; that will exemplified with the case Azerbaijan’s stance on Nabucco project. In other words I will look at what was the role of Azerbaijan in Nabucco project. Such a question enables me to underline the role of small states vis-à-vis energy policy in big regional energy projects. That will help to comprehensively analyze policy making in energy politics of the region; and at the same time warn against the overlooking small nations’ influences in this regard.

Analyzing this question, this research will have explanations for the Azerbaijan’s evolving energy policy vis-à-vis Nabucco project taking into account also the external factors that impacted Azerbaijan’s decisions on energy policy. That will help to understand the national interest of Azerbaijan in the failure of the Nabucco and also future perspectives emerged following the Anti-Iran Sanctions deal, which can change overall.

The policy papers and speeches of important decision makers both in Azerbaijan and EU will be used as a main source of the research. Interviews, while an ideal methods, are not suited for this case as very few officials are willing to speak on the record in a semi-authoritarian state like Azerbaijan. Therefore printed interviews and policy speeches are used. Moreover, secondary sources such as books and journal articles as well as online news will be looked at. In fact, a study of the Nabucco project fulfills two different definitions of a case study, Anthony Orum’s definition of it as an intensive examination of “a single case of a particular phenomenon20” (Orum 2001, p. 1509), and Andrew Bennett expanded definition that includes “both within-case analysis of single cases and comparisons between or among a small number of cases” (Bennett 2001, p. 1513).21 The table below compares the research methods that are relevant to this thesis. In this case, the conception of case studies as the use of a set of theoretical propositions to structure an empirical inquiry into an analytically defined aspect of a set of events22 has been used as the governing principle behind this study. It is not an ambitious one, or a thoroughly empirically researched one, given the limitations of a Master s thesis that predominately relies on secondary sources. It is an example of a theory guided case study23 with the theory behind it being neorealism. Theory-guided case studies are also idiographic, in that they aim to explain and/or interpret a single historical episode rather than to generalize beyond the data24 . Thus this part of my thesis is an attempt to structure a conceptual framework that will illuminate the rest of the study. In this part of the thesis I construct a theoritical framework so that the analytical assumptions, normative biases, and causal propositions that influence this thesis are clear. In other words I use the theory of neorealism to guide my empirical analysis of the case. While in social science this is followed by a subsequent step---using the data to suggest changes in the theory25 —the limitations of space as well as the rather basic knowledge of a complex case like the Nabucco pipeline negotiations that a short period of research entails means that this thesis will not suggest any theoretical changes.

Comparative Table of Methods26



Strategy

Form of Research Question

Requires Control of Behavioural Events?

Focuses on Contemporary Events?

Experiment

How, why?

Yes

Yes

Survey

Who, what, where, how many, how much?

No

Yes

Archival Analysis

Who, what, where, how many, how much?

No

Yes/No

History

How, why?

No

No

Case Study

How, why?

No

Yes

Gerring' s 27 contention is that a case study implies both a single cross-case analysis, or at least thought about a broader set of cases. His argument that the defining feature of a case study is “what is this a case of?” is applicable to this work as it is a case study of how a weak state can influence negotiating strategies of big powers. What Azerbaijan did with regard to the Nabucco pipeline is something that other smaller states could also adopt.


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