Rebecca L. Schiff

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Rebecca L. Schiff (born January 11, 1963) is a scholar of military studies and a professional fundraiser. She is best known for her concordance theory of civil-military relations. Concordance theory revises conventional approaches to civil-military relations that argue for the separation of a country’s civil and military institutions to prevent domestic military interventions such as coup d'état. Schiff's concordance theory does not preclude separation as a condition for concordance but offers it as one alternative among many, ranging from complete separation to overlap among civilian and military institutions and culture.


Schiff was born on January 11, 1963 in San Diego, Calif. She is the author of the book: The Military and Domestic Politics: A Concordance Theory of Civil-Military Relations (New York: Routledge Press, 2009). Schiff graduated Phi Beta Kappa and cum laude from Occidental College in Los Angeles, Calif. and earned both her master’s (Social Science) and Ph.D. (Political Science) from the University of Chicago. Currently, Schiff serves as associate editor of the academic journal Armed Forces & Society and is a council member of the Inter-University Seminar on Armed Forces and Society. She has held visiting professorships at the University of Michigan and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Her Chicago Ph.D, dissertation focused on civil-military relations in Israel. She currently holds the position of Adjunct Professor at the U.S. Naval War College.

Schiff was a member of a NATO technical research project conducted by representatives from ten countries including the United States. (HFM RTG-226). The project focused on military personnel work culture and relations in defense organizations among the participant nations. Schiff's contribution resulted in a NATO book chapter entitled: "Concordance Theory, Defense Personnel Relations, and the Global War on Terror."

As Adjunct Professor at the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island, Schiff has taught U.S. Civil-Military Relations in comparative perspective inclusive of India, Pakistan, Israel and Argentina. Schiff currently teaches a course entitled "A World Without NATO". The course is a historical and practical understanding of NATO--its creation, structure and operations. The course also focuses on several hypothetical scenarios or case-studies, (in the Middle East, Europe, and Asia), that students take part in with the goal of resolving international crises in a world where NATO exists and in a world where it does not.

Schiff has lectured internationally on civil-military relations, NATO, and the political thought of Hannah Arendt. Many lectures have taken place in universities and military colleges in Estonia, Turkey, Sweden, Israel, and the Netherlands.

She has also held major gift and/or corporate and foundation relations fundraising positions at the following universities: Harvard Law School, Harvard School of Public Health, Harvard Medical School, Brandeis University, the University of Michigan, and the University of Rhode Island. She has raised millions of dollars for programmatic support and student scholarships.

Schiff is also a real estate investor.

She has also been an active supporter of the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) communities. She has held national board positions for the Human Rights Campaign and PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays).[1]

Schiff also serves on the Hillel Board of Directors at the University of Rhode Island and the University of Chicago. She is also a supporter of the Occidental College Hillel. She has lectured internationally on the negative impact the BDS (Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions) movement has had on U.S. college campuses.

Theoretical contributions[edit]

Concordance theory[edit]

One critical question in civil-military relations theory is how to determine the conditions under which the military will intervene in the domestic politics of the nation. Many scholars agree with the theory of objective civilian control of the military (Samuel P. Huntington), which focuses on the separation of civil and military institutions. This view relies heavily on the U.S. case, from an institutional perspective, during the post-World War II period. In her book, "The Military and Domestic Politics: A Concordance Theory of Civil-Military Relations," Schiff provides an alternative theory, from both institutional and cultural perspectives, that explain the U.S. case as well as several non-U.S. civil-military relations case studies.

Concordance theory does not preclude a separation between the civilian and military worlds; but it does not require such a condition to exist. Schiff argues that three partners – the military, political elites and citizenry – should aim for agreement among four primary indicators:

  1. Social composition of the officer corps
  2. The political decision-making process
  3. The method of recruiting military personnel
  4. The style of the military

If agreement occurs among the three partners with respect to the four indicators, domestic military intervention is less likely to occur. Schiff applies concordance theory to five cases studies: U.S. Post-Revolutionary Period (1790–1800); Israel (1980–90); Argentina (1945–55); India (post-Independence and the 1980s); and Pakistan (1958–69).[2]

Schiff’s concordance theory was first introduced in her 1995 article "Civil-Military Relations Reconsidered: A Theory of Concordance" published in Armed Forces & Society. The 2009 publication of her book The Military and Domestic Politics: A Concordance Theory of Civil-Military Relations offers a more comprehensive examination of her theory among several national contexts. Schiff's approach is considered both timely and an important advancement in the field of civil-military relations by such scholars as Charles Moskos and John Allen Williams.[3][4]

The Military and Domestic Politics also examines how concordance theory has evolved from the field of military studies to “corporate concordance”, which focuses on the military-industrial complex. It suggests that many corporations have now shifted their priorities from building arms and military technology to corporate philanthropy and social responsibility.[5]

Targeted partnerships[edit]

Schiff’s current policy work focuses on applying concordance theory to counter-insurgency strategy. Her work entitled: "Concordance Theory, Targeted Partnership and Counterinsurgency Strategy" is an article that critiques the "normal theory" of civil-military relations. It introduces a new concept of “targeted partnership” which is a distillate form of concordance theory or agreement involving reciprocity between the military, the political elites and society for a limited period of time to accomplish a very specific objective. Targeted partnerships allows the military to interact effectively with policy makers and other military personnel on critical issues, such as counter-insurgency strategy, without breaching a nation's broad standard for civil-military relations.


  • "Concordance Theory, Targeted Partnership, and Counterinsurgency Strategy", Published online before print, Armed Forces & Society, July 20, 2011 0095327X11415491*
  • The Military and Domestic Politics: A Concordance Theory of Civil-Military Relations (New York: Routledge Press, 2009), ISBN 0-415-54919-1
  • "From Military Professionalism to Coup d’etat: Concordance Theory in India and Pakistan", in Giuseppe Caforio (ed.) and Manas Chatterji (series ed.), Advances in Military Sociology: Essays in Honor of Charles Moskos (United Kingdom: Emerald Group Publishing, 2009), ISBN 1-84855-890-2
  • "The Military and Domestic Politics". Book presentation for the European Research Group on Military and Society (ERGOMAS), Swedish National Defense College (Stockholm: June 2009)
  • "Concordance Theory in Argentina: Juan Peron Era – a Case of Discordance". Paper presented at American Political Science Association Conference (Washington, D.C.: September 2005)
  • "Concordance Theory: The Cases of India and Pakistan", in David Mares (ed.), Civil-Military Relations: Building Democracy and Regional Security In Latin America, Southern Asia, and Central Europe (Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press–Division of Harper Collins, 1998), ISBN 0-8133-2422-X
  • "The Indian Military and Nation-Building: Institutional and Cultural Concordance", in John P. Lovell and David Albright (eds.), To Sheathe the Sword: Civil-Military Relations in the Quest for Democracy (Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1997), ISBN 0-313-30037-2
  • "Civil-Military Relations Reconsidered: A Theory of Concordance", Armed Forces & Society 22 (Fall 1995): 7–24


  1. ^ Fenway Health (2006): "Women's Dinner Party", accessed March 14, 2010
  2. ^ JMSS Editorial Board Member Launches Her New Book. Biztekian Vision (May–Aug 2009): 22.
  3. ^ Moskos, Charles C. The Military and Domestic Politics: A Concordance Theory of Civil-Military Relations (New York: Routledge Press, 2009).
  4. ^ Williams, John A. The Military and Domestic Politics: A Concordance Theory of Civil-Military Relations (New York: Routledge Press, 2009).
  5. ^ JMSS Editorial Board Member Launches Her New Book. Biztekian Vision (May–Aug 2009): 22.

Other resources[edit]

  • Schiff, Rebecca L. "Concordance Theory: Response to Recent Criticism", Armed Forces & Society 23 (Winter 1996): 277–83.
  • Schiff, Rebecca L. "Civil-Military Relations Reconsidered: Israel as an Uncivil State", Security Studies 1:636–38.
  • Wells, Richard S. "The Theory of Concordance in Civil-Military Relations: A Commentary", Armed Forces & Society 23 (Winter 1996): 269–75.

External links[edit]