Dependent Diplomacy: Signaling, Strategy, and Prestige in the Diplomatic Network

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Authors Brandon J Kinne
Paper Category
Paper Abstract Diplomatic recognition is an essential tool of statecraft but remains largely unanalyzed by political scientists. Two recent trends in diplomatic practice raise notable puzzles: (i) use of diplomatic ties to signal (dis)approval of a regime or its policies, based largely on cues from diplomatic partners, and (ii) reliance on diplomatic missions as a means of securing prestige in the international system. I argue that both trends are the result of network influences. States face resource constraints and must choose diplomatic partners wisely, but they lack complete information about the risks and benefits of extending diplomatic recognition. To solve this informational dilemma, they condition recognition on the diplomatic activity of others. First, states send missions to countries that host missions from their own diplomatic partners, which increases the strength of diplomatic signals and reduces political risks. Second, states send missions to countries that host large numbers of missions in general (that is, “prestigious” countries), which increases their capacity for information gathering. In general, a state's decision to extend or retract diplomatic recognition depends heavily on the decisions of other states. Employing novel network methodologies, I show that these endogenous network influences are among the most consistent and substantively powerful determinants of diplomatic recognition.
Date of publication 2014
Code Programming Language R

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