Kuberski, Douglas Walter (2009-12). Domestic Audiences, Policy Feedback, and Sequential Decisions During Military Interventions. Doctoral Dissertation. Thesis uri icon

abstract

  • The literature on escalation situations and audience costs suggests that democratic executives tend to increase commitment to a foreign policy in response to negative feedback. However, real-world cases from international politics suggest otherwise. Specifically, executives do not appear to respond uniformly to failing situations. While scholars have begun to unravel the audience cost mechanism, up until know, we know little about reasons for the variation in how executives use policy feedback to update commitment to a foreign policy. In this dissertation, I adopt an integrative approach and present a model of sequential decision-making that explains the conditions under which leaders escalate and de-escalate commitment in response to feedback. I attempt to break down the audience cost mechanism to explain why democratic executives do not respond uniformly to negative feedback. While the literature on the escalation of commitment suggests decision-makers tend to increase investment in the face of negative feedback, my theory suggests that under certain conditions, executives may find it politically advantageous to back down from a failing policy. My theory emphasizes the relationship between citizens, executives, and foreign policy effectiveness. Next, I suggest that the foreign policy tool of military intervention provides a suitable test case for a theory of sequential decision-making. I first test hypotheses derived from the theory regarding the preference formation process of democratic citizens during the course of such an episode. Understanding the response of citizens to feedback is an important first step to understanding the updating decisions of democratic executives. While previous work has relied on aggregate survey data, experimentation provides me with the ability to analyze how an individual citizen?s preference over commitment is impacted by policy feedback. The results of the experimental analyses suggest that citizens act as investors: they favor increasing commitment to military interventions when viewing negative feedback, up to a point. I then test the main hypotheses derived from the theory regarding executive decision-making on a dataset of major power military interventions from 1960-2000. Overall, the results support the hypotheses: public approval conditions the manner in which executives use feedback to update intervention commitments. In the conclusion, I summarize the study by highlighting key results, present the broad implications for the study of democratic foreign policy making, and discuss avenues for future research.
  • The literature on escalation situations and audience costs suggests that

    democratic executives tend to increase commitment to a foreign policy in response to

    negative feedback. However, real-world cases from international politics suggest

    otherwise. Specifically, executives do not appear to respond uniformly to failing

    situations. While scholars have begun to unravel the audience cost mechanism, up until

    know, we know little about reasons for the variation in how executives use policy

    feedback to update commitment to a foreign policy.

    In this dissertation, I adopt an integrative approach and present a model of

    sequential decision-making that explains the conditions under which leaders escalate and

    de-escalate commitment in response to feedback. I attempt to break down the audience

    cost mechanism to explain why democratic executives do not respond uniformly to

    negative feedback. While the literature on the escalation of commitment suggests

    decision-makers tend to increase investment in the face of negative feedback, my theory

    suggests that under certain conditions, executives may find it politically advantageous to back down from a failing policy. My theory emphasizes the relationship between

    citizens, executives, and foreign policy effectiveness.

    Next, I suggest that the foreign policy tool of military intervention provides a

    suitable test case for a theory of sequential decision-making. I first test hypotheses

    derived from the theory regarding the preference formation process of democratic

    citizens during the course of such an episode. Understanding the response of citizens to

    feedback is an important first step to understanding the updating decisions of democratic

    executives. While previous work has relied on aggregate survey data, experimentation

    provides me with the ability to analyze how an individual citizen?s preference over

    commitment is impacted by policy feedback. The results of the experimental analyses

    suggest that citizens act as investors: they favor increasing commitment to military

    interventions when viewing negative feedback, up to a point.

    I then test the main hypotheses derived from the theory regarding executive

    decision-making on a dataset of major power military interventions from 1960-2000.

    Overall, the results support the hypotheses: public approval conditions the manner in

    which executives use feedback to update intervention commitments. In the conclusion, I

    summarize the study by highlighting key results, present the broad implications for the

    study of democratic foreign policy making, and discuss avenues for future research.

publication date

  • December 2009