ESOC Working Paper # 36: Foreign Influence as Constituency Cultivation

Publication Year
ESOC Working Paper Series

How do foreign agents, representing countries or other political actors, exert political influence in another country? While considerable theoretical and empirical attention are devoted to coercion (explicit or implicit) and corruption, other channels of political influence across countries have received far less consideration. In this article, we develop a novel theory of constituency cultivation, which is targeted investments by foreign actors that promote greater alignment between their interests and those of politically important groups/individuals in another country. We examine two key ingredients that influence constituency cultivation, pre-existing interest congruence and coordination salience (on decisions favoring the foreign actor). We show that increases in interest congruence and higher coordination salience reduce effort by a foreign actor on cultivating a constituency. Finally, we extend our theory to include corruption and show that it corresponds to a special case of equilibrium selection.


Kapstein, E., et al. (2022). Foreign Influence as Constituency Cultivation (ESOC Working Paper No. 36). Empirical Studies of Conflict Project. Retrieved [December 17, 2022], from

Publication Topic
Politics and Public Opinion
Economic Development
Publication Type
ESOC Working Paper