The Impact of Context on the Ability of Leaders to Signal Resolve

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Abstract

This article explores the impact of context on the ability of leaders to signal resolve in international disputes. Leaders make statements of resolve in various contexts, and the context in which a leader speaks affects the size and composition of the audience as well as how adversaries are likely to interpret the statements. I focus on comparing five main contexts in which leaders commonly make resolved statements: speeches to the nation, both scripted and unscripted interactions with the press, remarks to narrow audiences, and campaign events. I offer hypotheses regarding how the effectiveness of statements at conveying resolve will vary among these contexts and test them using a data set that codes resolved statements made by US presidents. I find that resolved statements made in national speeches and scripted remarks to the press have the most significant impact on dispute outcomes, suggesting greater effectiveness at conveying resolve. However, statements made in other contexts also appear to matter, and inconsistency among contexts can reduce the effectiveness of statements.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)453-479
Number of pages27
JournalInternational Interactions
Volume43
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - May 4 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Political Science and International Relations

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