Political Science, Department of


First Advisor

Rupal N. Mehta

Second Advisor

Robert Schub

Date of this Version

Spring 5-2020

Document Type



Troutman, Noelle. 2020. "Alliance Cohesion: Connecting the Disconnect in Alliance Reliability." Master's Thesis, University of Nebraska.


A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Arts, Major: Political Science, Under the Supervision of Professors Rupal N. Mehta and Robert Schub. Lincoln, Nebraska: May 2020

Copyright 2020 Noelle C. Troutman


Alliances are important to understanding international peace and conflict, but disagreement exists among scholars regarding alliance reliability with findings of allies fulfilling alliance obligations 25-75% of the time (Sabrosky, 1980; Leeds, et al., 2000; Berkemeier and Fuhrmann, 2018). What mechanism ultimately lies at the center of this puzzle? I argue that alliance cohesion, specifically differences in cohesion relating to internal dynamics of alliance structure and power distribution, lie at the center of this empirical disconnect. I define alliance cohesion as the ability of allies to agree on security preferences and appropriate methods to meet these ends. In this study I ask how alliance cohesion varies between bilateral and multilateral alliances. I hypothesize that bilateral alliances with asymmetric power distribution between allies increase cohesion, whereas multilateral alliances with symmetric power distribution between allies decrease cohesion. Findings support these hypotheses and suggest that more cohesive allies are more reliable allies.

Advisor: Rupal N. Mehta