How political leaders shape international rivalries: a psychological study of resilience and variability in Chilean-Bolivian and Chilean-Peruvian relations
Item statusRestricted Access
Embargo end date31/07/2022
Thiers Huerta, Maria Consuelo
This research seeks to set out an understanding of the life-cycle of interstate rivalries. Specifically, it looks at the Chilean-Peruvian and Chilean-Bolivian rivalries, focusing on decision-makers' beliefs and emotions regarding the conflict. The main objective is to shed light on the reasons for these rivalries’ endurance and variation from 1990 to 2019. To answer the research questions, this work adopts a political-psychological and agent-centred approach to analyse the psychology of decision-makers, and uses qualitative and quantitative methods to analyse political leaders’ rhetoric. It employs a case study process-tracing method to examine socio-psychological collective beliefs and emotions present in foreign policy elites to shed light on the enduring characteristic of these rivalries. In order to understand the variation that these rivalries have undergone over time, this research uses a content analysis technique within the Operational Code Analysis framework to assess and compare leaders’ beliefs. The data employed in this research is retrieved from interviews conducted with foreign policy elites in Bolivia, Chile and Peru, as well as interviews found in media outlets, speeches, official websites, and official documents. This research contributes to knowledge in three ways. First, it makes an empirical contribution by applying political-psychological concepts to help shed light on the dynamics of two rivalries that have not previously been studied using this framework. In doing so, it advances the understanding of foreign policy elites’ emotional and cognitive variables involved in both the continuation and variability of the Chilean-Bolivian and Chilean-Peruvian rivalries. Second, this research also makes a theoretical contribution to the broader study of interstate rivalries in International Relations, as it offers an alternative explanation to help understand political decisions that cannot be fully explained starting from traditional state-centred approaches. This thesis also advances the literature on leadership analysis as it confirms that decision-makers play a crucial role in shaping both the endurance and the variation of rivalries. Finally, by developing, implementing, and applying a content analysis tool to assess political leaders’ beliefs in the Spanish language, this thesis also adds a methodological contribution. In this sense, this work constitutes a step forward towards advancing research in the Foreign Policy Analysis field to include non-western contexts.