How Prior Military Experience Influences The Future Militarized Behavior Of Leaders
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Publisher:Ohio State University. Mershon Center for International Security Studies
Series/Report no.:Mershon Center for International Security Studies. Director's Speaker Series
Policy makers and much of the electorate take as a given that the life experiences of presidents, prime ministers, and other executives profoundly affect the way they will behave once in office. Most international conflict research, however, ignores leaders. Even recent work in international relations that discusses leaders nearly exclusively focuses on how political institutions drive the behavior of leaders, rather than on leaders themselves. Our research challenges the assumptions of traditional international relations research by turning the analytic focus to leaders and their personal developmental backgrounds. In particular, we suggest that individual differences in backgrounds affect relative risk taking, especially when it comes to militarized behavior. Specifically, this paper focuses on military backgrounds, a particularly poignant life experience with direct relevance for how leaders evaluate the utility of using force. This paper tests these propositions by developing and employing a new data set, building on Archigos, that encompasses the military, educational, occupational, and family background characteristics of almost 3,000 heads of state from around the globe from 1869-2004.
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Ohio State University. Mershon Center for International Security Studies