|dc.description.abstract||The literature on escalation situations and audience costs suggests that
democratic executives tend to increase commitment to a foreign policy in response to
negative feedback. However, real-world cases from international politics suggest
otherwise. Specifically, executives do not appear to respond uniformly to failing
situations. While scholars have begun to unravel the audience cost mechanism, up until
know, we know little about reasons for the variation in how executives use policy
feedback to update commitment to a foreign policy.
In this dissertation, I adopt an integrative approach and present a model of
sequential decision-making that explains the conditions under which leaders escalate and
de-escalate commitment in response to feedback. I attempt to break down the audience
cost mechanism to explain why democratic executives do not respond uniformly to
negative feedback. While the literature on the escalation of commitment suggests
decision-makers tend to increase investment in the face of negative feedback, my theory
suggests that under certain conditions, executives may find it politically advantageous to back down from a failing policy. My theory emphasizes the relationship between
citizens, executives, and foreign policy effectiveness.
Next, I suggest that the foreign policy tool of military intervention provides a
suitable test case for a theory of sequential decision-making. I first test hypotheses
derived from the theory regarding the preference formation process of democratic
citizens during the course of such an episode. Understanding the response of citizens to
feedback is an important first step to understanding the updating decisions of democratic
executives. While previous work has relied on aggregate survey data, experimentation
provides me with the ability to analyze how an individual citizen?s preference over
commitment is impacted by policy feedback. The results of the experimental analyses
suggest that citizens act as investors: they favor increasing commitment to military
interventions when viewing negative feedback, up to a point.
I then test the main hypotheses derived from the theory regarding executive
decision-making on a dataset of major power military interventions from 1960-2000.
Overall, the results support the hypotheses: public approval conditions the manner in
which executives use feedback to update intervention commitments. In the conclusion, I
summarize the study by highlighting key results, present the broad implications for the
study of democratic foreign policy making, and discuss avenues for future research.||en