Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Political Science

First Advisor's Name

Dr. John Clark

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Dr. Hilary Jones

Second Advisor's Committee Title

committee member

Third Advisor's Name

Dr. Felix Martin

Third Advisor's Committee Title

committee member

Fourth Advisor's Name

Dr. Eric Lob

Fourth Advisor's Committee Title

committee member


regional power, International relations of Africa, Horn of Africa, Ethiopia, national capabilities, national identity

Date of Defense



This research investigates the conditions under which a state’s regional influence increases, or a state becomes a regional power, using an in-depth analysis of the case of Ethiopia in the Horn of Africa. I make a two-fold argument (a) developments in the Horn of Africa over the last two decades show that the regional influence of Ethiopia has been growing, and (b) analysis of attributional capabilities – population, military, economy – alone do not fully explain this development. This dissertation tests a hypothesis derived from neo-classical realism recognizing that relative power (vis a vis the neighbors), although key to understanding both regional political standing and foreign policy, does not fully explain the rise of a regional power. I then use historical institutionalism to identify critical junctures in Ethiopia’s history that have contributed to state capacity. The research capitalizes on qualitative secondary sources and archival data to identify critical junctures that (a) expanded Ethiopian identity from a northern core to a larger community and (b) identified the people of Ethiopia more strongly with the central state over time. I conclude that, the theoretical shift to national level institutional transformation and critical junctures explain external relations in a weak-states regional system as in the Horn of Africa where national borders are contested, nation-building projects are unfinished, and cross-border intervention in support of insurgencies is prevalent.





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