Social Science Seminar - Affluence without Influence? The Inducement Dilemma in Economic Statecraft
10:30am - 12:00pm
Online Via Zoom

When can economic inducements—such as foreign aid, investment, and especially large-scale development initiatives—buy influence abroad? Countries often use financial favors to induce foreign policy concessions from other countries. The effectiveness of such inducements hinges on whether the sender can credibly threaten to halt or withdraw the inducements when the target does not concede. I examine a substantial set of development initiatives that are lucrative not just for the target but also for the sender. I argue that when the sender profits from the inducement it gives, it will not cut off the inducement, even if the target does not concede. I test this inducement dilemma in China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Using over 200 elite interviews, official documents published by the Chinese government, and original datasets on China’s overseas project contracts, I show that Beijing’s dual goals of the BRI are to (1) tackle domestic economic and environmental problems by encouraging Chinese companies to construct infrastructure abroad, and (2) gain international acceptance of China’s development and governance models. Consistent with my argument, the economic motive undercuts the foreign policy goal. These infrastructure projects promote international support for China’s governance and development models only when these projects do not serve China’s domestic goal of exporting excess industrial capacity.

Online Via Zoom
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Zenobia Chan is a PhD candidate in Politics at Princeton University. Her substantive research focuses on economic statecraft, in addition to work on political methodology. Her dissertation book project Alms and Influence studies under what circumstances and how economic inducements—like foreign aid, large-scale investment initiatives, and discounted sales of natural resources—can buy influence abroad. Her methodological work centers on developing machine learning algorithms and software for estimating heterogeneous treatment effects in both experimental and observational data. Zenobia's research has been supported by the Minerva Research Initiative, United States Institute of Peace, Smith Richardson Foundation, and Facebook. She holds master's degrees from Princeton, Columbia, and Sciences Po Paris, and completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Hong Kong.


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Speakers / Performers:
Ms Zenobia CHAN
PhD Candidate, Department of Politics, Princeton University
Division of Social Science