Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa

War Outcomes and Leader Tenure


A growing body of literature argues that war outcomes affect leaders’ tenure in office. But disagreement persists over how domestic political institutions translate performance in war into leader accountability. Some scholars argue that the tenure of democratic leaders is most sensitive to war outcomes, while others posit that autocratic leaders are more likely to be punished or rewarded for the outcomes of conflicts. The authors argue that existing research fails to take into account two important factors: whether the leader is viewed as culpable for the country's entry into the conflict, and whether the country features domestic institutions that make the leader vulnerable to removal from office, which varies greatly across nondemocracies. After taking leaders’ culpability and vulnerability into account, the authors show that the tenures of culpable, democratic leaders and culpable, vulnerable, nondemocratic leaders are sensitive to war outcomes. By contrast, the tenures of nondemocratic leaders who are less vulnerable to removal are not sensitive to war outcomes, regardless of their culpability.

Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

Michael Bratton , and Nicolas van de Walle . 1997. Democratic Experiments in Africa : Regime Transitions in Comparative Perspective. New York, N.Y.: Cambridge University Press.

Jason Brownlee . 2007. Authoritarianism in an Age of Democratization. New York, N.Y.: Cambridge University Press.

José A. Cheibub , Jennifer Gandhi , and James R. Vreeland . 2010. “Democracy and Dictatorship Revisited.” Public Choice 143, no. 1: 67101.

Giacomo Chiozza , and H. E. Goemans . 2004. “International Conflict and the Tenure of Leaders: Is War Still Ex Post Inefficient?American Journal of Political Science 48, no. 3: 604–19.

Giacomo Chiozza , and H. E. Goemans . 2011. Leaders and International Conflict. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Kevin A. Clarke 2009. “Return of the Phantom Menace.” Conflict Management and Peace Science 26, no. 1: 4666.

Sarah E. Croco 2015. Peace at What Price? Leader Culpability and the Domestic Politics of War Termination. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Michael C. Desch 2002. “Democracy and Victory: Why Regime Type Hardly Matters.” International Security 27, no. 2: 547.

George W. Downs , and David M. Rocke . 1994. “Conflict, Agency, and Gambling for Resurrection: The Principal-Agent Problem Goes to War.” American Journal of Political Science 38, no. 2: 362–80.

Erica Frantz , and Elizabeth A. Stein . 2012. “Comparative Leadership in Nondemocracies.” In Ludger Helms , ed., Comparative Political Leadership. New York, N.Y.: Palgrave Macmillan Press: 292314.

Jennifer Gandhi . 2008. Political Institutions under Dictatorship. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Jennifer Gandhi , and Adam Przeworski . 2006. “Cooperation, Cooptation, and Rebellion Under Dictatorships.” Economics and Politics 18, no. 1: 126.

Barbara Geddes . 2003. Paradigms and Sand Castles: Theory Building and Research Design in Comparative Politics. Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan Press.

Kristian Skrede Gleditsch . 2002. “Expanded Trade and GDP Data.” Journal of Conflict Resolution 46, no. 5: 712–24.

Hein E. Goemans 2008. “Which Way Out? The Manner and Consequences of Losing Office.” Journal of Conflict Resolution 52, no. 6: 771–94.

Hein E. Goemans , Kristian Skrede Gleditsch , and Giacomo Chiozza . 2009. “Introducing Archigos: A Dataset of Political Leaders.” Journal of Peace Research 46, no. 2: 269–83.

Axel Hadenius , and Jan Teorell . 2007. “Pathways from Authoritarianism.” Journal of Democracy 18, no. 1: 143–57.

Marilyse Julien , and James Hanley . 2008. “Profile-Specific Survival Estimates: Making Reports of Clinical Trials More Patient-Relevant.” Clinical Trials 5, no. 2: 107–15.

Brian Lai , and Daniel Slater . 2006. “Institutions of the Offensive: Domestic Sources of Dispute Initiation in Authoritarian Regimes, 1950–1992.” American Journal of Political Science 50, no. 1: 113–26.

Beatriz Magaloni . 2006. Voting for Autocracy: Hegemonic Party Survival and Its Demise in Mexico. New York, N.Y.: Cambridge University Press.

Beatriz Magaloni . 2008. “Credible Power-Sharing and the Longevity of Authoritarian Rule.” Comparative Political Studies 41, 4-5: 715–41.

John M. Owen 1994. “How Liberalism Produces Democratic Peace.” International Security 19, no. 2: 87125.

Thomas B. Pepinsky 2009. Economic Crises and the Breakdown of Authoritarian Regimes: Indonesia and Malaysia in Comparative Perspective. New York, N.Y.: Cambridge University Press.

Alejandro Quiroz Flores . 2012. “A Competing Risks Model of War Termination and Leader Change.” International Studies Quarterly 56, no. 4: 809–19.

Elizabeth N. Saunders 2011. Leaders at War: How Presidents Shape Military Interventions. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press.

Kenneth A. Schultz 2001. “Looking for Audience Costs.” Journal of Conflict Resolution 45, no. 1: 3260.

Elizabeth A. Stanley 2009. “Paths to Peace: Domestic Coalition Shifts, War Termination and the Korean War.” Palo Alto, Calif.: Stanford University Press.

Elizabeth A. Stanley , and John P. Sawyer . 2009. “The Equifinality of War Termination: Multiple Paths to Ending War.” Journal of Conflict Resolution 53, no. 5: 651–76.

Milan W. Svolik 2009. “Power Sharing and Leadership Dynamics in Authoritarian Regimes.” American Journal of Political Science 53, no. 2: 477–94.

Michael Tomz . 2007. “Domestic Audience Costs in International Relations: An Experimental Approach.” International Organization 61, no. 4: 821–40.

Gary Uzonyi , Mark Souva , and Sona N. Golder . 2012. “Domestic Institutions and Credible Signals.” International Studies Quarterly 56, no 4: 765–76.

Benjamin A. Valentino , Paul K. Huth , and Sarah E. Croco . 2010. “Bear Any Burden? How Democracies Minimize the Costs of War.” Journal of Politics 72, no. 2: 528–44.

Jessica L. P. Weeks 2008. “Autocratic Audience Costs: Regime Type and Signaling Resolve.” International Organization 62, no. 1: 3564.

Ronald Wintrobe . 2000. The Political Economy of Dictatorship. New York, N.Y.: Cambridge University Press.

Joseph Wright . 2008. “Do Authoritarian Institutions Constrain? How Legislatures Affect Economic Growth and Investment.” American Journal of Political Science 52, no. 2: 322–43.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

World Politics
  • ISSN: 0043-8871
  • EISSN: 1086-3338
  • URL: /core/journals/world-politics
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
Type Description Title
Supplementary Materials

Croco and Weeks supplementary material
Croco and Weeks supplementary material 2

 PDF (212 KB)
212 KB
Supplementary Materials

Croco and Weeks supplementary material
Croco and Weeks supplementary material 1

 Word (20 KB)
20 KB


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 558 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 1291 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 24th September 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.