State Capacity as a Moderating Factor for the Effects of Coercion on Compliance

Coercion is a crucial element in international cooperation and questions of war and peace. Coercive means are common tools in the pursuit of international order, ranging from targeted actions to broader coercive systems and relationships between states. However, coercion is clearly not a straightforward way to achieve compliance in international relations. Unintended consequences, resistance, and strategic interaction – among other factors – confound the effectivity of coercion in achieving the coercer’s desired outcome.

This thesis focuses on one such confounding factor – target state capacity. It examines how the effectivity of coercive measures (IV1a) and dependent relations (IV1b) in achieving compliance (DV) are moderated by target state capacity (IV2). The examination of this conditional relationship sheds light on the effectivity of coercion in international relations for both the imposition and the maintenance of peace and order.

State capacity is here understood as those domestic capabilities of the state directly relevant to shaping the policy area in question, rather than a catch-all concept. All else being equal, states with low administrative capacity and poor domestic enforcement mechanisms are expected to be less responsive to external pressure attempting to change their behavior. Conversely, high state capacity could “amplify” the effectivity of external pressure, as states will be more capable of implementing domestic change. Relatedly, the ways in which coercers take into account target state capacity when designing coercive measures will also be examined.