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Consensus or compliance? Foreign-policy change and external dependence


  • Moon, Bruce E.


The foreign-policy behavior of weak states, conventional wisdom holds, is largely determined by a process of bargaining with a dominant state. Compliance with the dominant state's preferences is viewed as necessary to the maintenance of economic exchange relations that benefit the weak state. Evidence for such a theory has been found in cross-sectional correlations of aid and trade with UN voting. However, such empirical studies have ignored alternative explanations, overlooked elements of the statistical record, and failed to examine the logic of the bargaining model. The assumptions of the bargaining model are vulnerable to criticism; an alternative model emphasizes multiple constraints on the behavior of both the strong and the weak nation in an asymmetrical dyad. Reanalysis of the data uncovers strong evidence of an explanation for foreign-policy continuity rooted in dependency. Dependency permeates and transforms the political system of dependent nations, thus bringing about constrained consensus rather than compliance. Furthermore, the data provide strong evidence for an explanation of foreign-policy change in both nations that centers on regime change, not on bargaining with an external actor.

Suggested Citation

  • Moon, Bruce E., 1985. "Consensus or compliance? Foreign-policy change and external dependence," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 39(02), pages 297-329, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:cup:intorg:v:39:y:1985:i:02:p:297-329_02

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    Cited by:

    1. Reuveny Rafael, 2000. "The Trade and Conflict Debate: A Survey of Theory, Evidence and Future Research," Peace Economics, Peace Science, and Public Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 6(1), pages 1-29, January.
    2. Dreher, Axel & Sturm, Jan-Egbert & Vreeland, James Raymond, 2009. "Development aid and international politics: Does membership on the UN Security Council influence World Bank decisions?," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(1), pages 1-18, January.

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