Document Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Political Science

First Advisor

Seden Akcinaroglu


State sponsorship of terrorism, where a government deliberately provides resources and material support to a terrorist organization, is common in the international system. By conceptualizing state sponsorship as a relationship between a principal and agent, I develop a consistent theoretical model that explains why states pursue this foreign policy strategy, as well as how they rationally attempt to minimize the inherent risks of delegating to violent non-state actors. I test my model by using a novel dataset on sponsorship behaviors that improves on the range, detail, and temporality of previously used measurements. My dissertation is organized into three distinct papers, the first of which examines why states choose to delegate to terrorists, the second, which organizations they are likely to support, and the third, how they attempt to control these unpredictable actors.