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Measuring Strategic Hedging

20 Pages Posted: 27 Jun 2014  

Mohammad Salman

Vrije Universiteit Brussel

Date Written: 2014


Over the past decades the International Relations field has displayed a lively debate between dedicated followers of "hard power" on the one hand and "soft power" on the other. Interestingly, more recently "strategic hedging" has emerged as a new concept in the international security literature (Tessman and Wolfe 2011; Tessman 2012; Wolfe 2013). In general, the strategic hedging approach allows for a more integrated analysis of hard and soft power. The strategic hedging research program, however, is in its early stages. This paper represents the first attempt to measure the core components of a state's strategic hedging capability and as such provides a comparative snapshot of those components by means of a composite index. This index comprises three basic dimensions (economic capability, military power and decision-making capability), which are broken down into six sub-indicators: gross domestic product (GDP), foreign exchange and gold reserves, government debt, military expenditure, growth of military arsenal, and democracy. Because second-tier states in the international system are likely to have the greatest incentives to engage in strategic hedging, the composite index developed in this paper is applied to a sample of seven leading second-tier states in a comparative case study. The results indicate that China tops the strategic hedging capability index and scores significantly higher than the other second-tier states.

Keywords: Strategic Hedging Behavior; Strategic Hedging Capability Index; State's Strategic Hedging; Second-tier States.

Suggested Citation

Salman, Mohammad, Measuring Strategic Hedging (2014). APSA 2014 Annual Meeting Paper. Available at SSRN:

Mohammad Salman (Contact Author)

Vrije Universiteit Brussel ( email )

Political Science Department
Pleinlaan 2
B-1050 Brussel

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