Situational Perspectives of Maritime Piracy

Thumbnail Image


Jiang_umd_0117E_20287.pdf (9.94 MB)
No. of downloads:

Publication or External Link





The emergence of maritime piracy has caused a great deal of concerns among various dimensions of our society. However, with few exceptions prior research has been hampered by a lack of theoretical underpinning and access to the most appropriate statistical methods. While there are nuances of piracy that can be considered quite unique, in general it can be situated within a broader framework of offending based on outcomes that seemingly share many of the same qualities. My dissertation attempts to improve our understanding of the crime by testing three core tenets of situational perspectives in the context of piracy. Three research questions motivated by LaFree and Birbeck (1991)’s conceptualization of a situation are examined – 1) To what extent does the study of maritime piracy support the central tenets of environmental criminology and crime and harm concentration at places; 2) How do offender motivation, target suitability and the absence of capable guardians and their convergence impact the instantaneous risk of piracy in South East Asia; and 3) To what extent do economic conditions of fishermen impact the instantaneous risk of piracy in East Africa and South East Asia. I rely on the IMO-GISIS database from 1995 to 2014, as well as auxiliary data from various organizations to tackle these questions. First, exploiting spatial econometrics methods, I find that there is statistically significant spatiotemporal patterns of concentration of hot spots and harm spots. Second, results from survival analyses indicate that the hazard ratios of the measures of high motivation, absence of capable guardians, suitable targets and their convergence are greater than 1 and significant in both the Malacca Strait and South China Sea. The series of robustness tests based on both frequentist and Bayesian statistics provide similar conclusions. Third, using a two-stage semiparametric approach, I find that there is statistically significant evidence to show that economic conditions of the fisherman-pirate adversely impact the instantaneous risk of ships being attacked in East Africa and the Malacca Strait and South China Sea. A robustness check based on an alternative specification supports the finding. I conclude with the implications of the research for theory, social policy and future research.