ISA 2015

It’s the most magical day of the year for IR scholars…the release of the preliminary program for the ISA Annual Conference! Thanks to the many section chairs who devoted countless hours to reading abstracts–and thanks especially for choosing me to chair a panel on Brazilian diplomacy and present a paper on small states’ foreign policies. (I have diverse interests, I suppose.) I am really glad to see a panel dedicated specifically to small states’ foreign policies.

Here’s the abstract for my paper, “Small states, great power?”

In recent years, IR scholars have devoted increased attention to the agency of small states in International Relations. Some have argued that a “foreign policy power” approach is needed to reveal the important roles that small states play, often in bilateral or subregional affairs. How do small states seek to exploit opportunities and manage constraints? This paper addresses that question by offering analytical categories of small state foreign policy power. Synthesizing evidence from an extensive review of the literature on small states, often focused on single countries, I develop a more cohesive foreign policy power approach for small states. In particular, I argue that small-state foreign policy power can be best understood as originating in three categories of capabilities. These can usually be grouped as “derivative,” collective, and particularistic. Derivative power, described by Michael Handel, relies upon the dominant power for their effectiveness. Collective power involves building coalitions of supportive states apart from the great power. Particularistic power relies on the inherent assets of the small state trying to do the influencing. These categories set the stage for future research into the conditions under which small states are most likely to achieve influence.

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