A Brief Description of SHERFACS

Source Citations


SHERFACS Database (Access)

Bibliographic and other sources SHERFACS is a data set which Frank L. Sherman developed to support his Pennsylvania State University dissertation research ("SHERFACS: A Cross-Paradigm, Hierarchical and Contextually Sensitive Conflict Management Data Set, International Interactions, Vol. 20, Nos.1-2(1994), pp. 79-100. and , Frank L. Sherman, "Partway to Peace: The United Nations and the Road to Nowhere. Ph.D. Dissertation, The Pennsylvania State University, Dept. of Political Science, 1987).

It is a revision of the data set developed under Hayward Alker's supervision, and reported in Hayward R. Alker, Jr., and Frank L. Sherman, "Collective Security-Seeking Practices Since 1945," in Daniel Frei, ed., Managing International Crises, Sage, Beverly Hills, CA., 1982. It's main published report is Frank L. Sherman, "SHERFACS," International Interactions, Vol. 20, Nos.1-2 (1994). The code book for SHERFACS that corresponds best to Sherman's partially updated version of his thesis data set (which goes through 1984), is his SHERFACS Project Report Number 3, "Research Design, Operational Protocols, Data Representations and Paradox 4.0 (SHERFACS 1.0) Code book," American University, 20 October 1992.

As the continuation and elaboration of his earlier collaboration with Alker, SHERFACS as a data set approximately doubled the number of "disputes" coded, and added over 1000 domestic "quarrels" of potential international significance. He co-authored with John Mallery, Gavan Duffy and others unpublished papers on machine learning approaches to institutional concept learning in the international system, based on SHERFACS data. And, shortly before his death, he asked Professor Alker to take responsibility for SHERFACS and its disposition. Professor Alker has put SHERFACS into the public domain, and currently maintains in California Sherman's extensive, only partly computerized files on the disputes and quarrels he was tracking. Sherman had collected, but mostly not coded, information on disputes and quarrels until about 1992, and made lists of them and the parties involved as well. The material that is included on this Web site includes Butterworth narratives for which use permission has been obtained, and Sherman's own case codings through 1984, plus UN and Keesing's Archives source citations to copyrighted materials. Thinking of SHERFACS as an information support system is a "stretch" of the sort Sherman would have approved. First, it provides data for the kinds of Haas-inspired simulation modeling efforts overviewed in H. R. Alker, Jr., James Bennett and Dwain Mefford, "Generalized Precedent Logics for Resolving Insecurity Dilemmas," International Interactions, Vol. 7(1982), pp. 165-206, and in the innovative sets of approaches to event-data analysis and interpretation contained in the other articles in the 1994 special issue of International Interactions (Vol. 20, Nos. 1-2) in which Sherman's own article appeared. Secondly, Sherman himself was a phenomenal conflict management/prevention action- recommenders' information support system himself. To watch and hear him use the data and texts included here, plus his other knowledge, was a remarkable and inspiring experience.

A brief description of SHERFACS SHERFACS as we present it here combines textual case-specific conflict management coded histories with narrative summaries and source citations. In accordance with ParisinLA's CASE AND STUDIES RATIONALE, only the cases directly relevant to ParisinLA's exploratory case subset of North African/West Asian cases (for SHERFACS 1945-end of 1984 time frame) are included here. But the entire public domain data set is available as well, here presented in somewhat abbreviated ACCESS files. SHERFACS culminates a long line of quantitative studies of international conflict management beginning with Ernst Haas' efforts to expand the study of conflict management and prevention to a larger set of management agents and issues. Following on the inspiration of Bloomfield and Leiss (and CASCON), Alker and Sherman in FACS, as well as Sherman in SHERFACS, modeled the escalation and de-escalation phase dynamics of internationally relevant disputes. These data sets specify actions taken by management agents, including their "referral" or agenda processes. SHERFACS goes much further than FACS in including conflicts that have been considered essentially of domestic origin, thus anticipating the changing interpretations given within the UN system to the meaning of "threats" to "international peace and security." The most significant effect of SHERFACS' doubling of FACS cases and HAAS' similar but slightly smaller universe of cases is the improved insight to be gained from a comprehensive set of conflict trajectories for discerning more precisely what is different about the disputes that do go further onto the agendas of the major collective security and conflict management organizations from those that do not. Sherman (his 1992 Code book, p.11f.) offers three key definitions: * Conflict Case: "A situation where there exists mutually exclusive set of competing claims or challenges to sovereignty between at least two actors, one of which must be an internationally recognized political actor." * Quarrel: a conflict case in which internationally recognized actors only comprise the parties on one side of the issue, and the issues involved, initially, are domestic or internal. *Dispute: a conflict case in which internationally recognized actors comprise parties on both sides of the issue.