Bang for the Buck: Understanding Disparities in Conventional Strategic Signaling Capacity Acquisition Among Arms-Importing States



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This dissertation investigates variations in capability-based strategic signaling capacity acquisition between states who primarily import major conventional weaponry rather than indigenously producing it. The dissertation examines three potential drivers of conventional procurement efficiency derived from extant secondary literature: (1) technologically focused responses to threats posed by competitor states; (2) policy goals of vendor states; and (3) responsible government practices. The dissertation analyzes the procurement spending, inventory change, competitor arsenals and signals, vendor state goals, and government practices for four case states over the analytic window 2000-2020: (1) India; (2) Pakistan; (3) Australia; and (4) Taiwan. I use multivariate statistical analysis to identify associations for each of each of the surveyed theoretical causal accounts with variations in case state procurement efficiency, finding: (1) support for threat-focused procurement as positively associated with procurement efficiency at the 99% confidence level; (2) support for equipment origin from vendors with complex arms sales goals as positively associated with procurement efficiency at the 99% confidence level; and (3) no support for responsible government practices as positively associated with procurement efficiency. The dissertation then qualitatively analyzes each case through narrative probe process tracing, devoting a chapter to each. Finally, the dissertation illustrates four primary implications of the research: (1) high-quality estimation of undisclosed procurement spending levels by states that primarily import their major conventional weaponry; (2) educated projection of independent success/failure odds of a state’s procurement-driven signaling strategy over a given window of time against a given competitor state; (3) a clear case for re-examining the consensus on transparent and responsible procurement practice definitions; and (4) systemic depiction of vendor attractiveness and comparative advantage among the most prolific arms-exporting states for prospective importers.



Acquisition, Balance of power, Deterrence, Security, Signaling, Weapons