About the Conference

For the last few decades, one of the primary concerns of international relations scholarship has been the role of domestic political institutions in shaping states’ behavior in the international arena, with a primary emphasis on the distinctiveness and advantages of democracies. In recent years, however, the study of regime type has been reinvigorated by several new areas of research. A number of scholars have opened up the “black box” of authoritarian regimes; others have focused on more nuanced aspects of democratic institutions to make novel predictions about the effect of regime type. Another set of studies has more directly questioned, largely on empirical grounds, whether democracies really are distinctive in some aspects of their international behavior. Although all of these studies have renewed and advanced the debate about the role of regime type in international relations, thus far these strands of research have mostly operated in isolation.

This conference will bring together three groups of people: those who focus on mechanisms by which democratic institutions play a role in IR, those who focus on mechanisms by which autocratic institutions play a role in IR, and those who focus on how the international environment influences regime type, thereby complicating research on the effects of regime type on international behavior. The conference will provide a forum to assess the role of regime type from a variety of perspectives at an opportune moment in this longstanding and important area of research.

This conference is coordinated by faculty organizers Susan Hyde (Yale University), Elizabeth Saunders (George Washington University), and Jessica Weiss (Yale University).

Thank you to conference sponsors: The Edward J. and Dorothy Clarke Kempf Fund from the MacMillan Center, Yale University; The Institute for Security and Conflict Studies at the Elliott School of International Affairs, George Washington University;  and The Leitner Program in International and Comparative Political Economy, Yale University.