Congressional Activism in Foreign Policy: The Case of Economic Sanctions

Open Access
Hatipoglu, M. Emre
Graduate Program:
Political Science
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
August 20, 2010
Committee Members:
  • Glenn Hunter Palmer, Dissertation Advisor/Co-Advisor
  • Glenn Hunter Palmer, Committee Chair/Co-Chair
  • Christopher Jon Zorn, Committee Member
  • David Scott Bennett Jr., Committee Member
  • Neil Philip Korostoff, Committee Member
  • foreign policy
  • Congress
  • sanctions
  • strategic probit
In many democracies, legislatures have increasingly been asserting their preferences in foreign policy decisions. While much ink has been spilt on how legislatures shape the executives' actions in foreign policy, few scholars asked whether and how foreign policy processes differ when legislatures execute foreign policy themselves. My dissertation argues that the institutional framework legislatures operate in impedes effective pursuit of their foreign policy aims. I employ institutionalist and bargaining approaches to derive my hypotheses on how legislative activism affects foreign policy dynamics. Both approaches converge on the same expectation: legislative execution of foreign policy worsens prospects for a state’s success in the international arena. Implications are tested in the context of U.S. economic sanctions. Statistical analyses show that sanction threats issued by Congress are less effective than presidential threats. Furthermore, sanctions imposed by Congress tend to last longer.