Formal Bilateral Influence Capacity

The Diplometrics Program has built and released databases on international organizations, diplomatic exchange (embassies), and treaties monitored by the United Nations, including the Formal Bilateral Influence Capacity Index (FBIC). The Diplometrics Program has also developed tools to help visualize and structure the data, such as the UN Voting Coincidence Dashboard. This data feeds a research agenda that is interested in measuring and modeling international relations and will inform the International Politics submodule of the International Futures (IFs) model.

The project expects to add to this data collection effort by producing data sets on non-state actors including international non-governmental organizations, multinational corporations, and others.

  • Why measure bilateral influence capacity?

    Bilateral influence capacity, also referred to as relational power, can be used to better understand more granular trends in the distribution of power across the international system. The Pardee Center has introduced the FBIC Index to track relational power in the international system from 1960 through 2020 for all pairs of states. This index is operationalized using data that cut across economic, political, and security dimensions of bilateral influence.

  • How is "bilateral influence capacity" defined?

    To answer this question, it is necessary to understand how power is understood by international relations researchers. Power has often been conceptualized through the lens of relative material capabilities, such as defense expenditures or gross domestic product. Power can also be expressed and understood in different ways. For example, previous scholarship and policy work has focused on the power of attraction, or soft power. More recent work has highlighted the importance of interdependence as a condition that can allow states to coerce others effectively. These dimensions of a state's capabilities, whether material or soft, can be drivers of foreign policy and diplomacy decisions, as well as other interactions between states in the international system. To measure bilateral influence capacity, then, it is critical to first measure power.

  • How can the FBIC Index support future research?

    Various researchers have attempted to measure capabilities in multidimensional indices, providing some context to the quantitative study of international relations. In addition to academic utility, these measures have also provided insights useful to U.S. policymakers. The FBIC Index can enhance policymakers’ understanding of the transformations in the global power landscape at the country, regional, and global levels.

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