Shannon Lindsey Blanton and David L. Cingranelli
Foreign policy analysis emerged as a subfield ino the late 1950s and early 1960s, when scholars began to focus on substate factors and on the decision making process in evaluating foreign policy. It was during this time that the United States embarked on an effort to establish internationally recognized legal standards aimed at protecting individual human rights. The United Nations Charter and the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UNDHR) made human rights promotion the responsibility of all member nations. But it was only in the late 1970s that human rights became an important component of quantitative foreign policy analysis. Numerous developments, including the Helsinki Accords of 1975 and the International Human Rights Covenants in 1976, helped elevate human rights concerns in the U.S. foreign policy making process. The scholarly literature on the subject revolves around three key issues: whether governments should make the promotion of human rights a goal of their foreign policies; whether the increasing use of human rights language in foreign policy rhetoric has been translated by the United States and other countries into public policies that have been consistent with that rhetoric; and whether the foreign policies of OECD governments actually have led to improved human rights practices in less economically developed countries. While scholars have produced a considerable amount of work that examines the various influences on the policy making process—whether at the individual, institutional, or societal levels of analysis—relatively few of them have focused on human rights perse.
Ralph G. Carter and James M. Scott
Institutions have long been an important focus of foreign policy analysis. This is due to the fact that foreign policy is made and implemented by individuals acting within structured institutions of the state, and their foreign policy behavior is affected by the nature of those institutional structures and the roles they generate. At the heart of any institutional approach is the intersection of agency and structure. Institutions tend to influence actors more than actors influence them, and their impact is independent of the regime type or the decision making actors. Decision makers both react to and impact the external setting of decision making and the setting internal to the state in which decision making occurs. That internal setting includes social structures and the roles they generate for decision making actors to play. There are three types of decision units: structures featuring a predominant leader, a small group, or a coalition of multiple autonomous groups. The leader most commonly associated with foreign policy making is the head of the government. Other institutional roles include the head of state and military leaders. However, even when a predominant leader exists, most foreign policy decisions are shaped by small groups. There are five types of small groups: leader–staff groups, leader–autonomous groups, leader–delegate groups, autonomous groups, and delegate groups. Decision units marked by multiple autonomous units include other executive and non-executive branch actors as well. These actors include ministries, legislatures, and courts and councils.
Michael J. Butler and Mark A. Boyer
Negotiation has emerged as the foreign policy tool of choice within the broader context of “complex interdependence,” whether the issue is about human rights, economic development, and scientific, cultural, and educational exchanges, or organized crime, migration, disease, and pollution. The expanding role of international negotiation has been magnified by changes in the international system, including the emergence of issue-specific negotiation “subsystems,” regionalism, and international regimes. In addition to sovereign states, other actors involved in international negotiation and diplomacy include international governmental organizations/regional governmental organizations, nongovernmental organizations, multinational corporations, regional and substate actors, and even private individuals. A host of factors influence the behavior of these actors, such as cultural variables associated with national identity. Furthermore, both the character and the number of issues at stake in any particular negotiation play a crucial role in shaping the nature and complexity of the negotiation process. Research on diplomacy negotiation encompasses a substantial body of literature that provides a window into the complexity of the interactions that take place among and around diplomats. The intellectual richness of such literature offers a means of understanding the outcomes in the everyday world of diplomatic interactions, while also attesting to the value of pursuing multi-method approaches to social scientific research more generally.
Latin American foreign policy has drawn the attention of scholars since the 1960s. Foreign policy–related literature began to surge in the 1980s and 1990s, with a focus on both economic and political development. As development in the region lagged behind that of its northern neighbors, Latin American had to rely on foreign aid, largely from the United States. In addition to foreign aid, two of the most prevalent topics discussed in the literature are trade/economic liberalization and regional economic integration (for example, Mercosur and NAFTA). During and after the Cold War, Latin America played a strategic foreign policy role as it became the object of a rivalry between the United States and the Soviet Union hoping to expand their power and/or contain that of the other. This role was also explored in a considerably larger body of research, along with the decision of Latin American nations to diversify their foreign relations in the post–Cold War era. Furthermore, scholars have analyzed different regions/countries that have become new and/or expanded targets of Latin American foreign policy, including the United States, Canada, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. Despite the substantial amount of scholarship that has accumulated over the years, a unified theory of Latin American foreign policy remains elusive. Future research should therefore focus on the development of a theory that incorporates the multiple explanatory variables that influence foreign policy formulation and takes into account their relative importance and the effects on each other.
John Thomas Preston
The classical literature on leadership—or at least the portion of it relevant to questions of foreign policy analysis—greatly evolved and changed over time from its beginnings in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. As new theoretical approaches and methodologies appeared, scholars eventually began to study the contextual nuances in this relationship between leaders and foreign policy. Yet, in its earliest incarnation, the literature was dominated by the “great man” theory of leadership, which suggested that leaders were “born, not made”—that people who became leaders were uniquely special and had personal qualities and characteristics setting them apart from non-leaders. Eventually, this fell out of favor with the rise of more situationally based theories and critiques pointing out the need to include both the person and the situation in order to explain leadership. Another strong tradition in the leadership literature historically has been the application of psychology and psychoanalytic theory to explain leadership styles and foreign policy actions. These approaches often employed in-depth psychobiographies of leaders to link their personalities, childhood socializations, or other experiences to subsequent patterns of behavior in life, styles of leadership, and foreign policy successes or failures. Yet another approach to the study of leadership follows a very different path towards understanding the concept and focuses instead upon not only the leader, but the follower as well.
Philip B.K. Potter
Foreign policy analysis (FPA) is the study of how states, or the individuals that lead them, make foreign policy, execute foreign policy, and react to the foreign policies of other states. This topical breadth results in a subfield that encompasses a variety of questions and levels of analysis, and a correspondingly diverse set of methodological approaches. There are four methods which have become central in foreign policy analysis: archival research, content analysis, interviews, and focus groups. The first major phase of FPA research is termed “comparative foreign policy.” Proponents of comparative foreign policy sought to achieve comprehensive theories of foreign policy behavior through quantitative analysis of “events” data. An important strand of this behavioral work addressed the relationship between trade dependence and foreign policy compliance. On the other hand, second-generation FPA methodology largely abandoned universalized theory-building in favor of historical methods and qualitative analysis. Second-generation FPA researchers place particular emphasis on developing case study methodologies driven by social science principles. Meanwhile, the third-generation of FPA scholarship combines innovative quantitative and qualitative methods. Several methods of foreign policy analysis used by third-generation FPA researchers include computer assisted coding, experiments, simulation, surveys, network analysis, and prediction markets. Ultimately, additional attention should be given to determining the degree to which current methods of foreign policy analysis allow predictive or prescriptive conclusions. FPA scholars should also focus more in reengaging foreign policy analysis with the core of international relations research.
The scholarly literature on Middle Eastern foreign policies has long treated the region as a pawn in the larger game of the great powers’ international rivalry for global supremacy. During the Cold War, Middle Eastern foreign policies were seen in terms of East-West confrontation, or as a replica of Western foreign policies. Over time, more sophisticated theories of Middle Eastern foreign policy have emerged. Two of the earliest theories that were applied to the study of Middle Eastern foreign policies were diplomatic political history and psychological approaches. Some scholars argue that the behavior of Middle Eastern states is reflective of some of the basic premises of the realist theory. Others, adopting a neorealist structural approach, contend that while Middle Eastern states may use the language of Islam and Pan-Arabism, power politics still lies at the core of their foreign policy. These scholars consider the shift in the regional and the global balance of power as the major explanatory factors for understanding foreign policy changes in the Middle East. Then there are those who conceptualize Middle Eastern foreign policies primarily in terms of dependency theory, the core-periphery power relations, and a struggle for the control of the region's oil and energy. Two other approaches to the study of Middle Eastern foreign policies are international political economy and bureaucratic politics. The Palestinian–Israeli conflict has been a major polarizing issue responsible for radicalization of regional politics and foreign policies in the Middle East.
Athanasios Hristoulas, Michael Lusztig, and David Skidmore
The dynamics of foreign policy making in the United States, Mexico, and Canada—the three countries that make up North America—has been influenced by political geography, political culture, and state–society relations. The combination of these three factors helps to explain America’s slow emergence as a great power, its unique brand of civic nationalism, the moralistic terms in which the aims of U.S. foreign policy are often cast, the lack of consistency in American diplomacy, and the hesitation the United States has often shown about accepting or adhering to multilateral commitments. For Mexico and Canada, the proximity of the United States has fundamentally shaped their external relations whether as a force of repulsion or a source of attraction. For much of the past century, Mexican foreign policy treaded a path of resistance to U.S. domination, driven by the political traditions of nationalism, populism, and anti-imperialism. In the case of Canada, it has also at times sought greater independence from the United States through economic nationalism while also carving out a distinctive foreign policy identity as a liberal and idealistic middle power. In the second half of the twentieth century, Canada cycled through four somewhat distinctive eras of foreign policy: the liberal internationalism of the 1940s to 1968; the left nationalism of the Trudeau era; Brian Mulroney’s commitment to continentalism; and Jean Chrétien’s renewed commitment to left nationalism that has ruined cross-border relations and diminished Canada’s relevance in Washington.
Stephen G. Walker and Mark Schafer
The process of foreign policy decision making is influenced in large part by beliefs, along with the strategic interaction between actors engendered by their decisions and the resulting political outcomes. In this context, beliefs encompass three kinds of effects: the mirroring effects associated with the decision making situation, the steering effects that arise from this situation, and the learning effects of feedback. These effects are modeled using operational code analysis, although “operational code theory” more accurately describes an alliance of attribution and schema theories from psychology and game theory from economics applied to the domain of politics. This “theory complex” specifies belief-based solutions to the puzzles posed by diagnostic, decision making, and learning processes in world politics. The major social and intellectual dimensions of operational code theory can be traced to Nathan Leites’s seminal research on the Bolshevik operational code, The Operational Code of the Politburo. In the last half of the twentieth century, applications of operational code analysis have emphasized different cognitive, emotional, and motivational mechanisms as intellectual dimensions in explaining foreign policy decisions. The literature on operational code theory may be divided into four general waves of research: idiographic-interpretive studies, nomothetic-typological studies, quantitative-statistical studies, and formal modeling studies. The present trajectory of studies on operational code points to a number of important trends that straddle political psychology and game theory. For example, the psychological processes of mirroring, steering, and learning associated with operational code analysis have the potential to enrich our understanding of game-theoretic models of strategic interaction.
Pedagogical objectives and educational outcomes play a significant role in foreign policy analysis. The actor-centered approach of foreign policy analysis gives students the unique opportunity to place themselves in the shoes of decision makers and to understand the different constraints, both domestic and international, that influence the policies adopted by decision makers. In other words, foreign policy analysis can have two functions: to teach students about the processes by which foreign policy is made, or the substance of the foreign policies of various countries, and to enhance students’ ability to imagine the perspectives of others. Whether foreign policy analysis does, in fact, manage to develop this ability is an empirical question that also depends on the course emphasis and pedagogies employed. In this sense, pedagogy does not only mean excellent teaching, but also systematic investigation of teaching methods and techniques, student learning outcomes, educational assessment, and curriculum development. The literature on foreign policy analysis, pedagogy, and curriculum emphasizes active learning strategies and the need for clearly articulated learning objectives for the curriculum as a whole and the place of specific courses within it. Examples of active learning pedagogies are case teaching, simulations, and problem-based learning. Despite some very worthwhile research that has been done, there are still some gaps that need to be addressed. One is the lack of empirical work that helps evaluate the merits of the various teaching strategies in foreign policy analysis, and another is the inconsistent findings produced by the empirical studies that do exist.
Steven B. Redd, David Brulé, and Alex Mintz
Milton Friedman and Herbert Simon introduced two opposing “schools” of thought in decision-making: the “rational actor” approach and the “cognitive approach,” respectively. Friedman argued that theories should be judged based on the validity of their predictions (“outcome validity”), whereas Simon countered that more emphasis must be placed on “process validity.” Seeking to bridge the gap between the cognitive and rational approaches, in the early 1990s Alex Mintz and colleagues developed poliheuristic theory. The theory is based on five main processing characteristics of decision-making: nonholistic search, dimension-based processing, noncompensatory decision rules, satisficing behavior, and order-sensitive search. A key premise of poliheuristic theory is its reference to the political aspects of decision making in a foreign policy context. Poliheuristic theory is related to Applied Decision Analysis (ADA), an analytic procedure which can be applied to all levels of analysis in foreign policy decision-making: the leader, the group and the coalition. As a bridge between rational and cognitive decision models, poliheuristic theory is uniquely positioned to contribute to progress in the study of world politics. Indeed, despite being relatively new to the discipline of foreign policy analysis, it has enriched our understanding of both the process of decision-making and the outcome of decisions, for example, or the diversionary use of force, international bargaining and negotiation, coalition formation, and terrorists’ decisions. A number of avenues deserve attention in future research on poliheuristic theory, in particularl the use of a more decision-theoretic dataset for investigating its basic proposition as well as more large-N methodological studies.
Jerel Rosati and Colleen E. Miller
Cognitive psychology highlights the constraints that prevent individuals from acting as utility-maximizing, fully rational decision-makers. These constraints lead people to rely on a regularly occurring set of cognitive mechanisms to simplify the decision-making process. Scholars of foreign policy have drawn from several prominent areas of cognitive psychology to inform their research. One such area looks at the beliefs and belief systems that are the building blocks for most judgments. Researchers have also examined how actors use cognitive biases and heuristics to cope with uncertainty, which is abundant in foreign policy settings. An important set of cognitive mechanisms examined in foreign policy analysis (FPA) relates to judgments about policy risks and costs. In order to make inferences and predictions about behavior concerning voting decision, certain key public influences must be considered. These influences include the role of emotions, political socialization, political sophistication, tolerance of diversity of political views, and the media. The effect of these influences on voting behavior is best understood through theories on the formation of attitudes, beliefs, schema, knowledge structures, and the practice of information processing. The degree to which voting decision is affected by internal processing systems of political information alters the quality of making truly democratic decisions.
Jeffrey W. Taliaferro
Prospect theory is one of the most influential behavioral theories in the international relations (IR) field, particularly among scholars of security studies, political psychology, and foreign policy analysis. Developed by Israeli psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky, prospect theory provides key insights into decision making under conditions of risk and uncertainty. For example, most individuals are risk averse to secure gains, but risk acceptant to avoid losses (loss aversion). In addition, most people value items they already posses more than they value items they want to acquire (endowment effect), and tend to be risk averse if they perceive themselves to be facing gains relative to their reference point (risk propensity). Prospect theory has generated an enormous volume of scholarship in IR, which can be divided into two “generations”. The first generation (1990–1999) sought to establish prospect theory’s plausibility in the “real world” by testing hypotheses derived from it against subjective expected-utility theory or rational choice models of foreign policy decision making. The second generation (2000–present) began to incorporate concepts associated with prospect theory and related experimental literature on group risk taking into existing mid-level theories of IR and foreign policy behavior. Two substantive areas covered by scholars during this period are coercive diplomacy and great power intervention in the periphery as they relate to loss aversion. Both generations of prospect theory literature suffer from conceptual and methodological difficulties, mainly around the issues of reference point selection, framing, and preference reversal outside laboratory settings.
Joe D. Hagan
One of the most prevalent ideas in the international relations (IR) literature is that domestic political patterns are linked to foreign policy via the concept of political regime (democracy, anocracy, and autocracy). Over the past two decades, the regime type-foreign policy nexus has gained ample theoretical and empirical credibility in IR theory. There are four areas of research on regime type and foreign policy: the first considers the “democratic peace” literature focused on authoritarian and democratic foreign policies; the second deals with the “democratization and war” literature that highlights the foreign policies of anocracies; the third uses the common large-N data sets and research design and “unpacks” democratic and authoritarian regimes (separately) to identify subtypes of each regime type; and the fourth is the so-called “politics and war” literature. The politics and war literature is rather fragmented, with authors pursuing separate and evidently incomplete lines of argument. There are three steps for integrating the key insights of the politics and war literature. First, the intensification of domestic opposition to established elites. Second, the adoption of new ruling strategies as a means for leaders to cope with rising domestic political crises and/or control of their hold over the regime. Third, the occurrence of international crisis, in which larger aspects of domestic politics persist, or emerge, to affect decisions involving the threat of war.
Role theory is an approach to the study of foreign policy that developed in the interdisciplinary field of social psychology and can be appropriately applied at the individual, state, and system level analyses. Role theory, which first attracted attention in the foreign policy literature after the publication of K. J. Holsti’s 1970 study of national role conception, does not refer to a single theory, but rather a family of theories, an approach, or perspective that begins with the concept of role as central to social life. The major independent variables in the study of roles include role expectations, role demands, role location, and audience effects (including cues). In addition, role theory contains its own model of social identity based on three crucial dimensions: status, value, and involvement. The 1987 publication of Stephen G. Walker’s edited volume, Role Theory and Foreign Policy Analysis, set the stage for further advances in the use of role theory in both the fields of foreign policy and international relations. According to Walker, role theory has a rich language of descriptive concepts, the organizational potential to bridge levels of analyses, and numerous explanatory advantages. This makes role theory an extremely valuable approach to foreign policy analysis. Role theory also offers a way of bringing greater integration between foreign policy analysis and international relations, especially through constructivist meta-theory.
Robert H. Donaldson
Russian foreign policy has both been similar and unique to that of other great powers. As a general rule of statecraft, Russia has pursued balance-of-power policies, which essentially involves the mobilization of power to countervail the power of an enemy or a potential adversary. The enduring goals pursued by Russian foreign policy have placed primary emphasis on ensuring national security, promoting the economic wellbeing of the country, and enhancing national prestige. The dominant theme in the Russian foreign policy under the tsars is that of expansionism. No single motive force can be found to explain tsarist Russian expansionism; rather, the influences of geography, regime type, the international system, and ideology all weigh in, though in different proportions at different times. The ideology known as Marxism–Leninism has also had a significant effect on Soviet and post-Soviet policy. Meanwhile, Russian Federation president Boris Yeltsin’s primary aim in foreign policy, like Mikhail Gorbachev’s before him, was to create a nonthreatening external environment that would be most conducive to his country’s internal economic and political development. On the other hand, Vladimir Putin pursued a pragmatic, cautious, and nuanced policy. The most visible change that Putin brought to Russia’s foreign policy was a heightened level of presidential activism. In his second presidential term, Putin further changed the direction of Russian foreign policy, increasingly demanding that Russia be recognized as a great power and be given commensurate weight in the resolution of global issues.
Jean A. Garrison
The core decision-making literature argues that leaders and their advisors operate within a political and social context that determines when and how they matter to foreign policy decision making. Small groups and powerful leaders become important when they have an active interest in and involvement with the issue under discussion; when the problem is perceived to be a crisis and important to the future of the regime; in novel situations requiring more than simple application of existing standard operating procedures; and when high-level diplomacy is involved. Irving Janis’s groupthink and Graham Allison’s bureaucratic politics serve as the starting point in the study of small groups and foreign policy decision making. There are three distinct structural arrangements of decision groups: formalistic/hierarchical, competitive, and collegial advisory structures, which vary based on their centralization and how open they are to the input of various members of the decision group. Considering the leader, group members, and influence patterns, it is possible to see that decision making within a group rests on the symbiotic relationship between the leader and members of the group or among group members themselves. Indeed, the interaction among group members creates particular patterns of behavior that affect how the group functions and how the policy process will evolve and likely influence policy outcomes. Ultimately, small group decision making must overcome the consistent challenge to differentiate its role in foreign policy analysis from other decision units and expand further beyond the American context.
Sumit Ganguly and Manjeet S. Pardesi
There is a pronounced dearth of scholarly literature on foreign and security policy in South Asia. The amount of South Asian case materials that have been effectively integrated into the mainstream of the foreign and security policy literature is very small. Furthermore, the bulk of the scholarship on these subjects emanating from the region has been quintessentially devoid of theoretical substance. The neglect of South Asia is baffling considering that the region offers a rich array of cases pertaining to questions of comparative foreign policy, interstate conflicts, regional crises, and the effects of nuclear proliferation, amongst other issues. There are a variety of plausible reasons to explain the marginalization of South Asian foreign policy studies. One, at the level of the global system, the South Asian states, with the exception of Pakistan, sought to self-consciously exclude themselves from the tensions of the Cold War international order. Also, India was also one of the principal exponents of the doctrine of nonalignment. After several decades of systematic neglect, however, there are signs that scholars are beginning to integrate the study of India and South Asia into the study of international relations, foreign policy, and strategic studies. This newfound scholarly interest in the South Asian region can be attributed to a host of actors, such as India’s remarkable economic growth of the past decade or so, Pakistan’s political fragility, and India’s and Pakistan’s acquisition of nuclear weapons.
Jason E. Strakes and David J. Galbreath
To gain a comprehensive understanding of the relationships of elite/citizen preferences and strategies—and its consequent impact on the perceived role of their countries in the greater international system—it is necessary to put an emphasis on interactions within and across contrasting areas of the formerly communist world. Until recently, the systematic investigation of foreign policy-making processes has been a relatively neglected dimension within the general domain of post-communist studies. During the mid-to-late 1990s, various scholars addressed ideological redefinition in post-communist states. Other scholars have addressed the foreign policy trajectory of the newly independent states from the perspective of governance, institutional structure, and state capacity. Among the analytic tools that have been adopted to evaluate the international activities of post-communist states in recent years is the burgeoning concept of “multi-vector” foreign policy. However, due to the vast cross-regional scope and complexity of the former Soviet region, it has become more analytically useful to identify this group of countries in terms of their location in separate and respective geographic subregions. Two regional overviews provide a synthesis of the four analytic foci: national identity, political transition, rationality, and regionalism. The first offers an assessment of the foreign policy decisions and strategies of the Baltic republics since 1990–1. The second evaluates the foreign relations between the Russian Federation and the five independent republics of Central Asia.
Joana Setzer and Karen Anderton
Subnational diplomacy has become an increasingly important part of foreign policy and international relations. This observation concerns a state of affairs that is not necessarily obvious or given. First, by definition, subnational governments usually conduct subnational activities and address problems that affect their constituencies. Second, in many countries subnational governments undertake such an agenda without an actual legal framework authorizing such initiatives. However, with an intensified global interdependency, policy areas such as environmental protection, human rights, immigration, and trade, just to name a few, require action both at the international and territorialized levels, as many of them transcend political administrative boundaries.
As a result, in the early 21st century it is possible to determine various forms of international relations conducted by subnational leaders. This activity involves direct interactions undertaken by subnational leaders and bureaucrats with other actors across borders (private, non-governmental, and governmental—national or subnational), participation in transnational networks, and/or participation in international policymaking. Because subnational governments are closer to the people and can test experimental or groundbreaking policies with less risk, oftentimes they can become pioneers of measures that can be rolled out or replicated elsewhere in the international domain. Such policy leadership is just one element of subnational engagement in the diplomatic arena whereby subnational governments move across jurisdictional levels, breaking the fixed scales in which they would traditionally operate.
In the past years, scholars investigating the external relations undertaken by subnational governments have dedicated great effort to understanding the motivations for regions to go into the international arena. What these studies lack, however, is an understanding of what the implications are of subnational governments’ engagement in international relations.