Research Question of the Article: The authors, Fiona McGillivray and Alastair Smith seek to explain the major factors, structures, concepts, theories, and important data that help in explaining the role of local institutions when top leaders leave in the context of international relations. They state, “test how domestic political institutions moderate the effect of leadership turnover on relations between states” (McGillivray and Smith 567). Moreover, the researchers have tried to solve the puzzle of leadership change and exchange of goods and services amongst various nations with the help of “dyadic trade data”. The main research question seems indeed interesting and somewhat less explored. Apart from this, the authors have explored the impacts of democracy and autocracy regarding leadership change and global trade. McGillivray and Smith raise questions on contemplation of other researchers on the topic. They write, “the institutional context of leadership change determines whether turnover influences trade flows” (McGillivray and Smith, 583). It means that role of institutions is more critical than many theorists think. The critics might see many logical gaps in the article although it seems reasonable for new learners of the topic.
Main Arguments and Theories: This article’s main argument is the critical role of the local institutions in the state and the system of government as the main factors of trade ties in the context of leadership turnover. In their exploration of factors and intricacies of international trade, local institutions, and leadership turnover, they elaborate the importance of alliances between states. Numerous international and domestic factors, regulations, interactions, and policies contribute to global trade. McGillivray and Smith have written the article in 2004, which was a period of political stability in developed nations except for Japan. The researchers have used mainly two theories “the Bueno de Mesquita et al. theory of the selectorate and winning coalition, and McGillivray and Smith’s theory of leader specific punishments” (McGillivray and Smith, 569). They have used both these theories to build a testable framework. They have denoted winning coalition with “W” and the selectorate with “S”. It is pertinent to explain selectorate which denotes “number of people from whom this coalition of supporters is drawn” (McGillivray and Smith, 569). They have also used dyadic trade flows to prove their hypothesis. Their first argument is that the “leadership change reduces trade” (McGillivray and Smith, 582). The second argument is that “the institutional context of leadership change determines whether turnover influences trade flows” (McGillivray and Smith, 583). The researchers draw the attention of readers towards the opposite preferences and liking of various types of political leaders. The behavior of democratic and autocratic leaders might be different from each other, which might impact trade between nations. The authors have presented strong reasons to prove their main and supporting arguments. They have used data to further improve their argument.
Closing Thoughts: McGillivray and Smith have provided a lucid review and account of trade ties in the context of leadership turnover. They should be credited with bringing in light a relatively less explored topic. The authors have used the trade data to supplement their contemplations and assertions. Their approach is multidisciplinary, which enhances the rationality and logic applied. At times, new learners might find it difficult to comprehend their views; however, once the readers start to read the paper, they might not leave it unfinished. They conclude that “democratic leaders are less likely to cheat than autocratic leaders” (McGillivray and Smith, 590). Besides, they sum up, “the extent to which leader change influences relations between states strongly depends on the institutional context in which leaders govern” (McGillivray and Smith, 593). Overall, the paper is worth reading.
McGillivray, Fiona, and Alastair Smith. “The Impact of Leadership Turnover on Trading Relations between States.” International Organization, vol. 58, no. 03, July 2004, 10.1017/s0020818304583054.Accessed 23 Apr. 2021.