In politics, "carrot or stick" sometimes refers to the realist concept of soft and hard power. The carrot in this context could be the promise of economic or diplomatic aid between nations, while the stick might be the threat of military action.
The earliest English-language references to the "carrot and stick" come from authors in the mid-19th century who in turn wrote in reference to a caricature or cartoon of the time that depicted a race between donkey riders, with the losing jockey using the strategy of beating his steed with "blackthorn twigs" to urge it forward, while the winner of the race sits in his saddle relaxing and holding the butt end of his baited stick. In fact, in some oral traditions, turnips were used instead of carrots as the donkey's temptation.
Decades later, the idea appeared in a letter from Winston Churchill, dated July 6, 1938: "Thus, by every device from the stick to the carrot, the emaciated Austrian donkey is made to pull the Nazi barrow up an ever-steepening hill."
The earliest uses of the idiom in widely available U.S. periodicals were in The Economist's December 11, 1948 issue and in a Daily Republic newspaper article that same year that discussed Russia's economy.
In the German language, as well as Russian and Ukrainian, a related idiom translates as sugar bread and whip.
- "Carrot and stick definition and meaning | Collins English Dictionary". www.collinsdictionary.com. Retrieved 2021-08-04.
- Montague, Edward P. (1849). Narrative of the late expedition to the Dead Sea: From a diary by one of the party. Carey and Hart. p. 139.
Edward p Montague the idea that persuasion is better than force.
- Child, Lydia Maria (1871). The Children of Mount Ida: And Other Stories. Charles S. Francis.
- Safire, William (December 31, 1995). "On Language – Gotcha! Gang Strikes Again". New York Times. Retrieved 29 January 2018.
- "Douglas wilkie's News Sense UK Workers Must Produce More". The Daily News. 1947-08-05. p. 5. Retrieved 2015-12-14.
- "Increased Productivity". Daily Advertiser. 1948-02-14. p. 2. Retrieved 2015-12-14.
- "Marxist Socialism Abandoned, Russian Economy Capitalistic (1948) - on Newspapers.com". The Daily Republic. 24 February 1948. p. 4. Retrieved 2016-01-21.
- EconPapers abstract for an experiment using this model "The Carrot or the Stick: Rewards, Punishments, and Cooperation"