What is it about?

This study seeks to invigorate research on state power and influence by focusing on external perceptions. To this end, we quantitatively operationalised a refined theoretical model indicating the potential factors that determine a state’s perceived power and influence in two steps. First, we constructed a model based on a six-factor index comprising both hard and soft resources of power. Second, we applied this factorial taxonomy to our country case study—Romania—to test empirically whether our model holds, using original surveys conducted in two neighbouring countries, Ukraine and Moldova. We sought to learn which of these factors is the most impactful and found that a hierarchy of these factors could be established, which varied depending on each country-to-country interaction.

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Why is it important?

We made two contributions. First, we quantitatively tested a six-factor analytical model for assessing a state’s perceived power and influence, which we then applied to Romania. This was done by investigating how each of the six factors was perceived in the two neighbouring countries, Ukraine and Moldova. To our knowledge, this is the first time that such a model has been addressed from a quantitative perspective. Our most important finding was that the proposed analytical model holds both for the overall sample, as well as for each of the two samples taken separately (namely, for Ukraine and for Moldova). This means that our model is replicable and, thus, could be used in other country studies, given that understanding external perceptions is of essential importance for national elites and policymakers in formulating and/or adapting the foreign policy of a country, in improving interstate relations or simply in providing useful insights into how a country’s external image could be altered. Our model could be also informative for assessing interstate interactions at times of geopolitical upheaval, with a direct impact on the distribution of power and influence at the regional and international level. The second contribution addressed the impact each factor within the model. A certain hierarchy of the factors determining the overall perceived state power and influence can be observed. This means that the proposed model indicates which of a country’s external actions (linked to any of the six factors) are salient. In the case of Romania’s relations with its immediate eastern neighbours, the most significant factors were military, economy and membership in international organisations.


We believe these findings are of great significance not only for understanding what power resources matter in Romania’s foreign policy, but also for how countries need to frame their external actions in general. Our model could be employed to indicate a country’s assets with regard to conducting foreign affairs and how to maximise the impact of its resources by targeting them effectively. In the case of Romania’s relations with its two neighbours, its military and security posture, its economy and its membership in international organisations appear to be the most potentially fruitful spheres of action.

Dr. Teodor Lucian Moga
Universitatea Alexandru Ioan Cuza

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This page is a summary of: Testing a Six-Factor Model on Perceived State Power and Influence: The Case of Romania, Europe Asia Studies, November 2023, Taylor & Francis,
DOI: 10.1080/09668136.2023.2275524.
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