Date of Award

Winter 2004

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Political Science & Geography


Graduate Program in International Studies

Committee Director

Kurt Taylor Gaubatz

Committee Member

Regina Karp

Committee Member

Larry Filer


Compellence, the use of a contingent threat of force to get a target state to modify a behavior, is an understudied area of international relations. An empirical examination of this area reveals patterns of the frequency of attempted compellence and successful compellence that are not explained by current research or broader international relations theories. In the post-World War II period (1946–2001), the pattern is a rapid drop and continued suppression of success, but a continuation of compellence attempts at the historic level. Existing compellence research and international relations theory do not explain this puzzling disparity of low success and continued attempts at compellence. By comparing this pattern with a sample of the previous conditions (1914–1945), this study provides initial findings about the compellence puzzle. Key among them is the effects of the shift in the international system after World War II, the American policy of containment, norm formation and promulgation, shifts of compellence from the core to the periphery, and the domestic effects of compellence on the longevity of leaders.


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