Governors with greater institutional and personal powers more active in foreign relations

June 24, 2008

Governors are becoming more active in American foreign policy activity because of the blurred lines of what is domestic and foreign policy and the global economy. A new study in Foreign Policy Analysis reveals that governors with greater public support and institutional authority are most likely to participate in foreign relations.

Samuel Lucas McMillan of the University of South Carolina examined the governors of 14 states between 1995 and 2004. Sample states include Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina.

Governors with greater institutional and personal powers are more likely to take part in foreign policy. Greater institutional controls, such as appointment power, tenure potential, and veto power, could enable governors to have a greater degree of influence in shaping their U.S. state's international programs and strategies to deal with international forces and problems.

Public support is necessary for governors' foreign policy activities, as is a personal interest by the governor.

Also, governors of Border States are more likely to be involved with foreign policy. These governors are more likely to meet with their counterparts in Canada and Mexico, as well as deal with issues such as immigration and border security in a greater degree.

"Since four of the last five U.S. Presidents are former governors, and governors continue to run for the White House, more research should be conducted about governors' activities related to foreign policy and foreign relations," McMillan concludes. "No longer should scholars ignore the subnational level and simply focus on national government officials and institutions in the study of foreign policy."

Source: Wiley-Blackwell

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