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What causes credibility? : reputation, power, and assessments of credibility during crises

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dc.contributor.advisor Barry R. Posen. en_US Press, Daryl G en_US
dc.contributor.other Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Political Science. en_US 2005-08-23T15:04:38Z 2005-08-23T15:04:38Z 2001 en_US 2001 en_US
dc.description Thesis (Ph.D.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of Political Science, 2001. en_US
dc.description Includes bibliographical references (leaves 255-263). en_US
dc.description.abstract Year after year, Americans are told that their country's reputation is on the line. If we do not carry out our commitments, our foreign policy leaders warn, no one will believe our threats and promises in the future. This claim rests on the hypothesis, which I call the "reputation hypothesis," that tomorrow's enemies will assess America's credibility on the basis of U.S. actions today. Is the reputation hypothesis true? Will our adversaries predict our future actions by looking at today's decisions? More generally, do decision makers predict their adversaries' actions in a crisis by looking at the adversaries' previous actions? I test the reputation hypothesis against a hypothesis which I call the "power/interests" hypothesis. This hypothesis posits that decision makers assess the credibility of an adversary's threats by assessing the current balance of power and interests; commitments are credible when they support important interests and are backed up by the power to carry them out. I test these theories by studying American and British decision making during three crises. From 1958-1962, the Soviet Union and the NATO allies faced each other in a series of crises over Berlin and Cuba. I use evidence from American and British archives to discover how decision makers assessed Soviet credibility during these crises. I look for evidence that they based their assessments of Soviet credibility on past Soviet actions, and for evidence that they assessed Soviet credibility by evaluating the current balance of power and interests. The results are striking: during this period the Soviets repeatedly made threats and then backed down. But years of unfulfilled threats did not damage Soviet credibility. In fact, Soviet credibility grew from 1958-62, as the power/interests hypothesis predicts. American and British decision makers worried constantly about their own reputation, but they did not use Soviet past behavior to assess Soviet credibility. This research suggests that countries should not fight to build a reputation for credibility - threats will be credible if and only if they promote substantial interests and are backed up by sufficient power. en_US
dc.description.statementofresponsibility by Daryl Grayson Press. en_US
dc.format.extent 263 leaves en_US
dc.format.extent 22941535 bytes
dc.format.extent 22941292 bytes
dc.format.mimetype application/pdf
dc.format.mimetype application/pdf
dc.language.iso eng en_US
dc.publisher Massachusetts Institute of Technology en_US
dc.rights M.I.T. theses are protected by copyright. They may be viewed from this source for any purpose, but reproduction or distribution in any format is prohibited without written permission. See provided URL for inquiries about permission. en_US
dc.subject Political Science. en_US
dc.title What causes credibility? : reputation, power, and assessments of credibility during crises en_US
dc.type Thesis en_US Ph.D. en_US
dc.contributor.department Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Political Science. en_US
dc.identifier.oclc 48116055 en_US

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