Date of Award

Summer 2021

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


Political Science

First Advisor

Timothy M. Peterson


As economic sanctions have been increasingly used to advance a range of foreign policy goals, a great deal of research has explored the determinants of sanctions use and sanctions success. Despite the fact that research on economic sanctions has produced significant advancement in our understanding of the causes and efficacy of the usage of these tools, a few important questions remain overlooked or unanswered in the sanctions literature. This dissertation aims to look into some of these overlooked questions by asking three interrelated questions. First, how do third-party rivals of the possible target state affect the onset of economic coercion? To answer this question, I look at variations in the target state’s third-party rivals. Specifically, I develop a theory of the process through which sanctions are initiated by the sender and then responded to by the target taking the target’s third-party rivals into account. I find that the sender is more likely to levy sanctions against a potential target country when the potential target is involved in an ongoing international rivalry with third states. Second, how do the target’s third-party rivals affect the sanctions outcomes? I show that the target is more likely to resist when the target has active third-party rivals by establishing an empirical link between conflictual interstate relationships and sanctions outcomes. Finally, how do the target’s domestic institutional factors affect sanctions outcomes conditional on the influence of the target’s trade policies on sanctions outcomes? To answer this question, I examine the possible interactive relationship between the target state’s trade openness and its domestic institutions with target acquiescence. Analyzing the target’s domestic environment in which the target responds to sanctions, I show that the positive relationship between trade openness and the likelihood of target acquiescence is less prevalent in democratic countries compared to authoritarian regimes. To test the hypotheses theoretically derived in each chapter, I employ a variety of statistical tools and use several data sources, including the Threats and Impositions of Economic Sanctions (TIES), Correlates of War (COW) data-sets, the Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) project data-set, and the Gravity database from CEPII, among others. I find support for my expectations in statistical tests.


© 2021, Shaoshuang Wen