Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Political Science

Major Professor

Brandon Prins

Committee Members

David Brule, Robert Cunningham, Peter Gross


This dissertation examines the influence of executive ideological orientation on state foreign policy behavior. I advance an analytical model which asserts that foreign policy decisionmakers act in a manner consistent with the ideological principles presented in their political platforms, party manifestos, and their voters' expectations. Thus, I assert that within developed democracies, the further right a government is, the higher the propensity to behave more aggressively. Oppositely, the further left a government is, the more likely it is to behave more cooperatively.

I empirically analyze this theoretical argument by developing three models where the foreign policy behavior is measured uniquely in each separate model. I estimate executive ideology by using two proxies: one which estimates the overall ideology of the executive while the other captures only the foreign policy dimension of executive ideology. To test the hypotheses derived from the theoretical model, I create a new dataset of responses to international crises. Foreign policy behavior is operationalized as an ordinal variable which takes into account a complex range of actions that governments take in the international arena, such as providing aid, mediation, non intervention, condemnation, sanctions, and the use of force. I employ Logit and Orderd Logit statistical analyses on a large-N cross national model. My dissertation focuses on all 22 OECD countries, during the period 1977 to 2001.

The empirical findings partially support my theoretical argument, contingent upon the proxy used for executive ideology and the way state behavior is estimated. I find consistent support to my argument if executive ideology is estimated with the proxy which contains only the party manifestos' foreign policy variables.

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