Signals or substitutes? Why economic sanctions undermine threats of force

Placeholder Show Content


This dissertation investigates how the choice to use economic sanctions undermines threats of force. When faced with a crisis, leaders must choose among a menu of coercive strategies, and the choice of strategy conveys information about the leader's resolve. While some scholars and policymakers look to sanctions as tools for escalation, I argue that sanctions are poor signals of resolve for three reasons. First, sanctions have become attractive instruments for addressing low-level disputes where the use of force would be excessive. Second, sanctions exact pain on opposing states and can be used to ameliorate audience demands to ``do something" in crises where leaders are unwilling to fight. Third, since leaders have the option of directly threatening force, targets should expect the most resolved leaders to do so, and doubt the resolve of leaders who initially apply sanctions as an alternative strategy. This dissertation consists of three papers to support this argument, utilizing formal theory, quantitative analysis, qualitative historical study, and survey experiments to demonstrate why the choice to use sanctions signals a lack of resolve to fight.


Type of resource text
Form electronic; electronic resource; remote
Extent 1 online resource.
Publication date 2016
Issuance monographic
Language English


Associated with Neuman, Craig H II
Associated with Stanford University, Department of Political Science.
Primary advisor Schultz, Kenneth A
Thesis advisor Schultz, Kenneth A
Thesis advisor Fearon, James D
Thesis advisor Tomz, Michael
Advisor Fearon, James D
Advisor Tomz, Michael


Genre Theses

Bibliographic information

Statement of responsibility Craig H. Neuman, II.
Note Submitted to the Department of Political Science.
Thesis Thesis (Ph.D.)--Stanford University, 2016.
Location electronic resource

Access conditions

© 2016 by Craig Henry Neuman
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 Unported license (CC BY-NC).

Also listed in

Loading usage metrics...