Reputation for Resolve: How Leaders Establish Reputations in International Politics

Under contract with Cornell University Press, Cornell Studies in Security Affairs.

How do reputations form in international politics? What influence do these reputations have over the conduct of international affairs? In Reputation for Resolve, Danielle L. Lupton takes a new approach to answering these enduring and hotly debated questions by shifting the focus away from the reputations of states and instead examining the reputations of individual world leaders.

Lupton argues that new leaders establish personal reputations for resolve that are separate from the reputations of their predecessors and of their states. Using innovative survey experiments and in-depth archival research into American-Soviet relations, Lupton finds that leaders acquire personal reputations for resolve based on their foreign policy statements and behavior. Furthermore, she shows that statements create expectations of how a leader will react to foreign policy crises in the future. How leaders follow up their early statements of resolve with concrete action critically affects whether they are perceived as resolute or irresolute. Leaders who fail to meet expectations of resolute action face harsh reputational consequences that affect their ability to achieve their foreign policy goals.

Reputation for Resolve challenges the often-publicized view that reputations do not matter in international politics. In sharp contrast, Lupton shows that the reputations for resolve of individual leaders influence the strategies statesmen pursue during diplomatic interactions and crises, delineating specific steps policymakers can take to avoid reputations for irresolute action. Thus, Lupton demonstrates that reputations for resolve do exist and can influence the conduct of international security. As a whole, Reputation for Resolve reframes our understanding of the influence of leaders and their rhetoric on crisis bargaining and the role reputations play in international politics.