Small states and the strategic utility of cyber capabilities

Domingo, Francis Rico (2018) Small states and the strategic utility of cyber capabilities. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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The information revolution has profoundly influenced the interaction between states in the twenty-first century. Networked computers have supported the operations of the global financial system, industrial services, and even the conduct of military operations. Due to this revolution, the level of dependence on networked technologies has risen exponentially following the evolution of the Internet. However, networked technologies have also exposed vulnerabilities that have been exploited by hostile actors to disrupt systems, infiltrate networks, and aggravate conflicts.

While the academic literature on cybersecurity has substantially increased in the past decade, most scholars have focused their attention on the capabilities of great powers and strategic behaviour in cyberspace. Despite the cyber incidents involving Estonia and Georgia, as well as the proliferation of cyber capabilities among states, scholars have continued to overlook the relevance of small states in cyber interactions. The significance of this research gap is more prominent in the studies on the Asia-Pacific Region where a substantial amount of studies have focused on the foreign and security strategies of small states but very few have focused on the cyber dimension.

This research gap is addressed by the study by exploring the strategic utility of cyber capabilities for small states in the region. More specifically, it addresses the puzzle: Why have small states developed cyber capabilities despite its obscure strategic value? On this, three additional questions are considered: What factors influence the development of cyber capabilities? What are the advantages and limitations of developing cyber capabilities? What are the implications of cyber capabilities on the foreign and security policies of small states?

The primary objective of the study is to develop a more comprehensive understanding of the strategic utility of cyber capabilities as foreign policy instruments for small states. It hypothesises that two necessary conditions influence the development of cyber capabilities in small states: the balance of power in the Asia-Pacific (primary condition) and strategic culture (secondary condition). The interplay between these two conditions provides a stronger explanation regarding why small states develop cyber capabilities regardless of the ambiguity surrounding the strategic utility of cyber capabilities. Based this hypothesis, it draws on neoclassical realism as a theoretical framework to account for the interaction between systemic and the domestic variables. The study also pursues three secondary objectives. First, it aims to determine the constraints and incentives that affect the development of cyber capabilities. Second, the study evaluates the functionality of these cyber capabilities for small states. Lastly, it assesses the implications of cyber capabilities on the military strategies and foreign policies of selected small states.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Cormac, Rory
Mumford, Andrew
Keywords: Small states, Cyber, Foreign Policy, Strategy
Subjects: J Political science > JZ International relations
Q Science > QA Mathematics > QA 75 Electronic computers. Computer science
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Social Sciences, Law and Education > School of Politics and International Relations
Item ID: 55316
Depositing User: Domingo, Francis
Date Deposited: 15 Apr 2019 10:07
Last Modified: 12 Dec 2020 04:30

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