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Article

Rational Choice Perspectives on Bureaucracy  

Anthony M. Bertelli and Nicola Palma

Formal models of bureaucracy have attracted significant attention as a systematic body of theory in the past decades. Scholars in this tradition examine institutions and organizations, uncovering incentives that can explain and help to design governance. Scholars in the rational choice tradition study the relationship between politicians and bureaucrats as an incomplete contracting problem between a political principal and a bureaucratic agent. When elected representatives delegate policymaking authority to an administrative agency, they face hidden action problems when the agency takes unobservable actions, and hidden information problems when there are things about agency policy preferences that representatives cannot easily learn. A wide variety of bureaucratic policymaking problems can be modeled as variations on these information problems. Formal theorists have considered resources and discretionary authority as variables that can be optimized to mitigate agency problems, and the models have both positive and normative implications.

Article

Maritime Piracy and Foreign Policy  

Brandon C. Prins, Aaron Gold, Anup Phayal, and Ursula Daxecker

With Somali-based piracy in the Greater Gulf of Aden no longer a significant threat to commercial shipping, and great power competition, along with the COVID-19 pandemic, driving media attention, maritime piracy no longer remains the salient global security concern it was a decade ago. The number of attacks attributable to Somali-based pirates dropped dramatically between 2011 and 2015 and has remained low ever since. In the first 6 months of 2021, only five incidents were reported in the Greater Gulf of Aden, and none of the attacks were successful or definitively involved Somali perpetrators. The boundaries of the High-Risk Area in the Indian Ocean have been reduced significantly since 2011, and small, private maritime security firms have begun to go out of business as demand for armed guards on ships has diminished. But recent increases off the coast of West Africa and in the Singapore Straits confirm that the threat has not been entirely eliminated. Previous surges in sea crime led Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand to initiate coordinated patrols in the Malacca and Singapore Straits. The dramatic increase over the past 3 years in armed robbery on ships off of the Riau Islands in the east-bound lane of the Traffic Separation Scheme has produced calls from local authorities, as well as the Information Sharing Center at ReCAAP, for increased surveillance, coordination, and enforcement. While the international community mounted a significant counterpiracy response to attacks in the Greater Gulf of Aden beginning in 2009 and shipping companies started to implement protective measures to safeguard their transports, piracy endures because the conditions driving it persist. Successful attacks against ships produce sizable payoffs, and the risk of capture remains low in most places. Further, the continued presence of fragile governments, corrupt elites, joblessness, and illegal foreign fishing ensures that pirates will continue to pose a threat to marine traffic. Recognizing the enduring hazard of sea piracy, the International Maritime Organization Assembly in December 2021 called for a decade-long commitment to capacity building so that governments would have the tools to suppress organized criminal violence and protect seafarers. Current research efforts focus on the subnational drivers of pirate attacks. While structural (country-level) indicators of poverty and institutional fragility correlate with piracy, local conditions on land proximate to anchorages and shipping lanes where incidents occur provide additional leverage in explaining where pirates locate and why piracy endures. Existing research also suggests piracy is connected to armed insurgency. As rebels seek resources to help fund their antistate or separatist campaigns, piracy, like gemstones, oil, and narcotics, can serve as a means to pay fighters and purchase weapons. Spatially and temporally disaggregated analyses as well as the synthesis of research on civil war, organized crime, and maritime piracy will open up new lines of inquiry into the relationship between rebel fighters, transnational crime, and state capacity. Not only do we observe connections between trafficking, piracy, and illegal fishing, but interstate rivalry and resource competition enables maritime crime by impeding coordinated government efforts to apprehend sea criminals.

Article

Power and National Capability  

Brian Crisher

Power is a crucial concept for international relations scholars. Of particular importance for those interested in understanding foreign policy is knowing how power manifests as national capabilities. Understanding the relationship between power and capabilities allows for comparison and contrast of the various foreign policy tools leaders have at their disposal as they attempt to achieve their goals. Despite the importance of power, scholars still debate the best means for conceptualizing and operationalizing the concept. The all-encompassing nature of power makes it difficult to focus on a single characteristic. This article focuses on three main aspects of power: military, economic, and soft power. Each section gives an overview into the current state of research into the various aspects of power. The discussion on military power emphasizes operationalizing military might and issues with innovation. The section on economics focuses on economics as a source of power and a tool for coercion. Finally, the last section focuses on noncoercive aspects of power, better known as soft power. The article ends with some suggestions for future research.

Article

Foundations of Power Transition Theory  

Ronald L. Tammen, Jacek Kugler, and Douglas Lemke

Power Transition theory is a dynamic and structural model for analyzing fundamental shifts in global power. The theory itself, while maintaining its core concepts, has metamorphosed over time by adding new dimensions and addressing new topics. It is both data based and qualitatively intuitive. As a probabilistic theory, it has proven useful in predicting the conditions that forecast both conflict and cooperation at the global, national, and subnational levels of analysis. As a foreign policy tool, it creates historical signposts pointing toward tectonic shifts in nation state and alliance power profiles.

Article

Small States in the European Union  

Diana Panke and Julia Gurol

Smaller European Union member states face size-related challenges in the EU multilevel system, such as weighted voting in day-to-day policymaking in which EU secondary law is produced or high workloads and fewer resources during intergovernmental conferences (IGC) to set EU primary law. Coping with these challenges is paramount to smaller states’ success. Thus, they can use different strategies, most notably selective engagement and negotiation strategies that do not require much material power, such as persuasion, framing, and coalition-building, as well as the Council Presidency as a window of opportunity to influence the agenda. Applying these strategies allows small states to punch above their weight. Yet, doing so is easier the longer states have been members of the EU. Older, smaller states have more extensive networks, more insights about past policies, and in-depth knowledge on best practices that help them in effectively navigating day-to-day EU negotiations as well as IGCs.

Article

Public Administration, Turbulence, and the European Union  

Jarle Trondal

In a multilevel governance system such as the European Union (EU) policy processes at one level may create challenges and dilemmas at lower levels. Multilevel governance involves a multiplicity of regulatory regimes and succeeding governance ambiguities for national actors. These regulatory challenges and ensuring governance dilemmas increasingly affect contemporary European public administration. These challenges and dilemmas are captured by the term turbulence. The inherent state prerogative to formulate and implement public policy is subject to an emergent and turbulent EU administration. Organized turbulence is captured by the supply of independent and integrated bureaucratic capacities at a “European level.” Throughout history (1952 onwards) the EU system has faced shifting hostile and uncertain environments, and responded by erecting turbulent organizational solutions of various kinds. Studying turbulence opens an opportunity to rethink governance in turbulent administrative systems such as the public administration of the EU.