Publication Date




Embargo Period


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)


International Studies (Arts and Sciences)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Joseph Parent

Second Committee Member

William C. Smith

Third Committee Member

Roger Kanet

Fourth Committee Member

Bruce Bagley


What are the political determinants of successful defense development in developing countries? Leveraging insights from the international relations and comparative politics literatures, I argue that successful defense development is a function of elite perceptions of external vulnerability at strategic junctures. As elite perceptions of external vulnerability increase, I expect state power for defense development to increase, thus improving defense development outcomes. I compare the relative utility of this novel argument by comparing it to three existing theories: the defense dependency approach; neorealism; and the institutional capacity approach. Using comparative historical analysis and process tracing, I test these four theories against the cases of the Brazilian and Indian aeronautics enclaves. The conclusion I reached is that while the existing approaches to defense development all capture important aspects of this process, the neoclassical realist model is more powerful, if less parsimonious. This is so because it systemically incorporates systemic and unit-level variables to explain defense development, thereby filling a lacuna in the defense development literature.


Defense development; emulation; internal balancing; developing countries; realism; industrialization