The variation in the efficacy of governance-related authority structures is stunning. The focus among scholars primarily on domestic conditions, and only secondarily on the external environment, to explain patterns of political development conforms to the prevailing assumptions of comparativists, international relations scholars, and international lawyers. Over the past decade, however, some scholars have studied the possibility that political institutions within states can be influenced or determined not only by internal factors and the external environment but also by the explicit policies of foreign actors. An emerging body of scholarship examines the efficacy of different policy tools that external actors might use to change the structure of domestic institutions in target states. We review this literature and reach the following conclusions. First, contracting often works, coercion sometimes works, and imposition rarely works. Second, the motivation of initiators matters: to be effective, intervening states must be committed to institutional change. Third, conditions in the target state are consequential: higher levels of development facilitate institutional change, and elite motivations must be aligned with the goals of external actors.


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