Art of Economic Statecraft: When Pain Matters

Dmitriy R. Nurullayev


When employing economic sanctions, what are the best practices to induce desired outcomes for the sending state(s)? Broad economic sanctions have been shown to be ineffective. Recognizing that sanctioning as a diplomatic strategy is unlikely to be abandoned, scholars have focused on making the case for smart timing and targeting of sanctions. Their arguments stem from deciphering the internal drivers of decision making within targeted states. Unlike work that is reliant on solely internal mechanisms, this paper enhances the understanding of targeted states by examining cost-benefit strategies of (1) individual leaders and (2) nation states that are in pursuit of strategic goals. This paper argues that when sanctions create large costs (anticipated or inflicted) on the target, those sanctions have a higher likelihood of producing successful outcomes regardless whether the sanctions are “smart” This study utilizes TIES data on sanctioning and Polity scores on democracy. I use ordinal logit and ordinary least squares regression to estimate the models and find strong support for the hypothesis.[1]

[1] I am thankful to Brooke Justus for her assistance in copy editing. I am also grateful to Daniel Tirone and the anonymous reviewers for their constructive feedback.

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JMSS gratefully acknowledges the financial support of the Social Science and Humanities Research Council.