Reputations in economic coercion: explaining the effectiveness of sanction threats Public Deposited

Downloadable Content

Download PDF
Last Modified
  • March 22, 2019
  • Kleinberg, Katja B.
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Political Science
  • Economic sanctions are an increasingly common phenomenon in international politics. A large and growing body of research has been devoted to their study and to the questions of whether and how sanctions work. Yet while our understanding of imposed sanctions and their ability to bring about desired outcomes has increased significantly over, we know much less about the earlier stages of the sanctioning process. Why do targeted states sometimes give in to mere threats of sanctions but reject them at other times? Is it enough that the prospective costs of threatened sanctions are large? Or will a state stand firm even in the face of potentially powerful sanctions if there is reason to believe that the sender is bluffing? Taking as a point of departure the general insight that coercive threats have to be both credible and potent to succeed, this dissertation proposes a novel explanation for sanctions outcomes. I argue that a state's past record of carrying out sanction threats against recalcitrant opponents provides targeted states with information about the likelihood with which a current threat will be enforced. Based on observations of their previous actions, sender states acquire reputations for resolve, which come to affect the perceived credibility and thus the coercive effectiveness of their threats. From this basic argument, I derive three hypotheses, which I test against a number of alternative predictors suggested by the extant literature. The findings indicate that potential sanctioners might do well to mind their reputations.
Date of publication
Resource type
Rights statement
  • In Copyright
  • Crescenzi, Mark J. C.
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Open access

This work has no parents.