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.
Joana Setzer and Karen Anderton
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.
Luis L. Schenoni
Somewhere in between unipolar and imperial orders, hegemonies divide the continuum from anarchy to hierarchy in world politics, connoting interstate systems of the highest concentration of authority. However, depending on the author, hegemony might denote the concentration of relative capabilities in a single state, the presence of a state that seeks international leadership, general consent in the international society regarding subordination to a central order, or a combination of these phenomena. Similarly, scholars debate the extent to which the relation of authority entailed by hegemony should encompass the economic, military, and/or ideational domains. Given this multiplicity of meanings, this review of extant definitions illuminates some issues that must be addressed explicitly when dealing with this concept. Although hegemony might mean different things for different intellectual traditions, these understandings are interconnected in a family resemblance structure that has facilitated mutual intelligibility. A mapping of this network of meanings suggests that special attention needs to be paid to how scholars have thought about the capabilities that would-be hegemons have, the roles they play, and the type of response they elicit from subordinate states. It also suggests the economic, military, and ideational dimensions of hegemony should be explicitly considered in theoretical discussions. Finally, it highlights the importance of avoiding ambiguity by connecting theory with empirics and providing clear measurement strategies. Measurement is essential to delineate the geographical and temporal scope of hegemonies with more precision, to compare them, and to evaluate their effects on certain outcomes. Debates about hegemony have undergone important empirical progress throughout the decades rendering this a promising area for future research.
The number of women in national elective leadership positions has grown since 1960 when the first woman became prime minister. As the number of women in high elective office has grown, feminist scholars have worked to fill the “gender gap” in the study of national leadership in the disciplines of history, political science, and international relations. Feminist scholars, for instance, have investigated several gender-based assumptions about what the policy priorities of women leaders will be. The first assumption is that a woman leader will promote social programs and expenditures over military defense; this assumption is based on women’s traditional gender role as caretaker. The second assumption is that a woman leader will be likely to eschew the use of military force in foreign policy. The third is that she will introduce or endorse policies that promote gender equality, that is, that she will pursue a feminist agenda. Thus, the general policy questions scholars approach the study of women leaders with are: Is she a socialist? Is she a pacifist? Is she a feminist? Feminist scholars also consider public perceptions about women’s ability to serve as national leader as well as performance, or women’s style of leadership and effectiveness as leaders. Do women lead in a hierarchical, “top-down” command style or do they tend to be more cooperative, collegial, and collaborative than their male counterparts?
There is wide consensus among global environmental politics (GEP) scholars about the urgent need for leadership in international climate negotiations and other environmental issue areas A large number of GEP studies elaborate rhetoric and actions of aspiring leaders in GEP. In particular, these studies seek to identify which states have sought to provide leadership in international negotiations on the environment, and how they have exercised this role in institutional bargaining processes at the international level. The biggest share of GEP studies generally focus on leadership in environmental governance within the United Nations (UN), and international negotiations on climate under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in general, or the role of the European Union (EU) in those negotiations in particular. Many GEP scholars have also investigated the leadership role of the United States in international environmental regime formation, whereas there are no systematic investigations concerning China’s leadership in GEP. In addition to the states, GEP literature identifies a wide range of other actors as potential leaders (and followers) in environmental issue areas: international organizations, non-governmental organizations, corporations, cities, religious organizations, social movements, politicians, and even individuals. Since leadership is a social relation, a growing number of scholars have moved to study perceptions of leadership and to conceptualize the relationship between leaders and followers. GEP scholars also identify some qualitative aspects a leader must have in order to attract followers. Many empirical studies show that despite the EU’s aspiration to be a climate leader, it is not unequivocally recognized as such by others. At the same time, it seems that some forms of leadership, especially those based on unilateral action, do not necessarily require followers and recognition by others. In addition to the leader–follower relationship, the motivation of leadership constitutes one of the key controversies among GEP scholars. Some argue that self-interest is a sufficient driver of leadership, while others claim that leaders must act for the common good of a wider constituency (or at least be perceived to do so). To conclude, most scholars studying leadership in GEP regard structural leadership (based on material capabilities and hard power) as an important type of leadership. Much less attention has been paid to the social dimensions of leadership; this is undoubtedly a gap in the literature that prospective studies ought to fill.
Karen A. Rasler and William R. Thompson
There are various approaches, both simple and complex, to systemic conflict. The simpler ones include balance of power, polarity, concentration, polarization, and democratization. More complex systemic approaches to conflict range from power transition and relative power cycle to leadership long cycle and world-systems. Some of these programs continue to generate scholarly interest and produce new findings, while others have been beset with little activity. Yet, none of these research programs have captured enough scholarly attention to be fully “mainstreamed.” That is, they have not been co-opted as central interpretations of international politics. The theoretical literature on simpler approaches to systemic conflict persists today but was more common prior to the mid-1970s. Since systemic analyses were not well developed in the first two or three decades after World War II, scholars grappled with what systemic analyses meant. One question is whether we should differentiate between a global system and its multiple regional subsystems. Complex systemic research programs have declined in analytical popularity after peaking in the 1980s, in large part because perceptions of the world situation changed in the 1990s. Whether “traditional” system dynamics will regain its lost status in light of the globalization processes perceived to be at work remains unclear, but there is cause for optimism about the future contributions of systemic theory as research programs in this area have expanded to include new topics and issues, along with new theoretical developments in other areas that will be pertinent to systemic perspectives.
At the beginning of the twenty-first century, the number of women with leadership positions in national governments increased considerably. In 2006 alone, a woman became the head of government in Chile, South Korea, Liberia, and Jamaica. However, the question of how women differ from men in terms of leadership style and policy preferences has emerged as a subject of intense debate. Scholars have produced a substantial amount of work that addresses gender differences in political leadership, and particularly leadership in global politics. Many studies focus on women’s access to the upper echelons of political power, what women representatives bring to politics that is different, and how far and in what ways women politicians and legislators have different policy preferences to those of their male counterparts. More specifically, these studies explore whether women’s political representation helps advance women’s group interests. Within political science, there has been limited research regarding the systematic elements of leadership in politics, and especially the role that gender identity plays in the exercise of global political leadership. Future research should address these gaps, along with other questions such as what women leaders actually do with that power once they get there; whether women’s leadership indeed makes a difference for peace or for women’s group interests; and the political outcomes of women’s leadership.
Jacqueline Anne Braveboy-Wagner
Despite the near-absence of studies of the Caribbean within the mainstream of international relations (IR) theory and foreign policy analysis (FPA), as well as a tendency to subsume this diverse and unique region within the larger Latin America, a focus on Caribbean international relations offers several interesting implications for the wider fields of both IR and FPA. Realist, liberalist, constructivist, and critical approaches all can be incorporated into the study of Caribbean foreign policy in unique ways, and the subfield of foreign policy analysis can also be enriched by focusing on the particular domestic sources of foreign policy in small, culturally diverse, developing countries such as the Caribbean states. Among the unique characteristics of foreign policy in these states is the important role played by external forces in both the economy and the polity, leading to constraints on decision-making autonomy. The external factor also explains why the idea of “inter-American relations” has long been viewed as providing the necessary backdrop for explaining Caribbean foreign policy. Related to this is the important role played by the main regional actors, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), as well as the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), which has thinned the boundary between state and region. As for the prioritization of military-security issues seen in the more powerful countries of the globe, these Caribbean states (apart from Cuba) have eschewed military adventures and traditionally defined their foreign policies in terms of the prioritization of economic development. Finally, to study Caribbean foreign policy means that the scholar must exercise creativity in borrowing from perspectives not normally included in traditional foreign policy studies. Sociology, anthropology, historiography, political economy, and public policy are complementary tools for understanding the Caribbean. Moreover, situating the study of foreign policy within general currents of thought on the role of small states and global south states is also recommended.