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date: 28 April 2017

Small State Foreign Policy

This is an advance summary of a forthcoming article in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Politics. Please check back later for the full article.

Size matters in international relations. Owing to their unique vulnerabilities, small states have different needs, adopt different foreign policies, and have a harder time achieving favorable foreign policy outcomes than large states. Small states show a preference for multilateral organizations because they reduce the power asymmetry between states, reduce the transaction costs of diplomacy, and impose constraints on large states. The security policies of small states vary widely depending on domestic and international conditions. Despite the inherent disadvantages of being small, small states can compensate for the constraints of their size, provided that they use the appropriate strategies and exert influence on world politics.