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This book presents the evolution of the field of foreign policy analysis and explains the theories that have structured research in this area over the last 50 years. It provides the essentials of emerging theoretical trends, data and methodological pitfalls and major case-studies and is designed to be a key entry point for graduate students, upper-level undergraduates and scholars into the discipline. The volume features an eclectic panorama of different conceptual, theoretical and methodological approaches to foreign political analysis, focusing on different models of analysis such as two-level game analysis, bureaucratic politics, strategic culture, cybernetics, poliheuristic analysis, cognitive mapping, gender studies, groupthink and the systemic sources of foreign policy. The authors also clarify conceptual notions such as doctrines, ideologies and national interest, through the lenses of foreign policy analysis.



Chapter 1. What Is Foreign Policy Analysis?

What is a policy and when does a policy become foreign? This introductory chapter defines foreign policy analysis (FPA). At the crossroads between the theories of international relations and public policy analysis, FPA draws on multiple disciplines. Few fields of study have embraced disciplines as varied as sociology, economics, public administration, psychology and history with the same enthusiasm. Although there are now calls for interdisciplinarity in all the social sciences, FPA can, undeniably, claim to be a leader when it comes to integrating different disciplines.
Jean-Frédéric Morin, Jonathan Paquin

Chapter 2. How to Identify and Assess a Foreign Policy?

This chapter focuses on an essential prerequisite for every FPA, namely, identifying a foreign policy so that it can be grasped and explained. This stage is often neglected and constitutes the Achilles’ heel of several studies, which are so preoccupied with the decision-making process that they overlook the foreign policy itself. Yet, it is crucial for analysts to carefully define the policy that they aim to explain. To define is to interpret. In other words, by defining, the researcher attributes a meaning that will, in turn, influence the type of explanation sought. This chapter focuses on five benchmarks that provide the basis for a comparative approach, including the goals, mobilized resources, instruments, process and outcomes. As this chapter makes clear, identifying benchmarks is not difficult; it is access to comparable data for research that poses problems.
Jean-Frédéric Morin, Jonathan Paquin

Chapter 3. Do Decision-Makers Matter?

How useful is the individual level of analysis in understanding foreign policy? This is a legitimate question since there is still controversy surrounding the use of this unit of analysis. With the behavioral revolution in the 1960s, internationalists abandoned the study of “great men”. Kenneth Waltz was the first to acknowledge that heads of state do sometimes play a defining role, but considered that they are too complex and idiosyncratic for a systematic analysis (1959). In recent years, however, the individual level of analysis has gradually regained its proper place in the analysis of foreign policy. Several internationalists now recognize that completely ignoring the role of individuals is reductive and counterproductive. As this chapter shows, some researchers are focusing on the cognitive and affective characteristics specific to a given individual, while others are trying to identify major trends in the way decision-makers generally perceive and interpret their environment.
Jean-Frédéric Morin, Jonathan Paquin

Chapter 4. What Is the Influence of the Bureaucracy?

In modern democracies, the bureaucracy is supposed to remain politically neutral and ensure that government decisions are implemented. In reality, the relationships between bureaucrats and political leaders are not always clear-cut. Moreover, the institutional design of the bureaucracy can greatly affect foreign policy. The bureaucracy’s principal resource is no doubt its expertise. It selects the information presented to the leaders and arranges it intelligibly. By presenting the problems or possible actions in a certain way, it structures the leaders’ decision-making. This chapter discusses the control of government leaders over the bureaucracy as well as the influence of the bureaucracy on the foreign policy decision-making.
Jean-Frédéric Morin, Jonathan Paquin

Chapter 5. To What Extent Is Foreign Policy Shaped by Institutions?

Foreign policy decisions are always made within an institutional framework, which shapes actors’ preferences and behavior. This is one of FPA’s most firmly established observations. Since the emergence of neo-institutionalism in the 1980s, the very notion of political institution has broadened. It is no longer merely limited to the constitutional rules that determine how decision-makers are elected. It also includes all formal and informal rules and practices, representations and standards that govern social and political life, both within and outside the state. An array of theoretical approaches, ranging from rationalism to constructivism, can be used to guide research on the impact of institutions on foreign policy. This chapter presents some of the theoretical approaches by focusing on four forms of institutions: parliamentary and electoral system, state organization, political regime and economic regime.
Jean-Frédéric Morin, Jonathan Paquin

Chapter 6. How Influential Are the Social Actors?

Various social actors influence or seek to influence foreign policy. NGOs, companies, the media, ethnic groups, unions and experts all exert a degree of pressure on the government. They also interact—exchanging information, setting up coalitions and continually adapting to their environment. The government does not simply listen passively to their grievances. It is involved in social dynamics and, in turn, seeks to influence social actors. The social fabric is made up of a two-way flux of influence, which overlaps to form a complex system. Awareness of this complexity helps clarify some commonplace ideas. For instance, it is often argued that the electorate has little interest in international politics, that unpopular politicians use international crises to distract attention from domestic problems or that NGOs are altruistic by nature while private corporations are egocentric. This chapter examines such commonplace assumptions.
Jean-Frédéric Morin, Jonathan Paquin

Chapter 7. How Does Rationality Apply to FPA and What Are Its Limitations?

Rationality is a key concept in all fields of social science. The rationalist paradigm provides an illusion of control, which may partly explain why it is so deep-rooted. The claim that actors behave rationally suggests that their behavior follows certain patterns and can be explained by an outside observer or even modeled, predicted and manipulated. Analysts and political decision-makers alike may feel destabilized when confronted with behavior that is interpreted as being irrational (Mandel 1984). The rationalist paradigm covers a vast range of theoretical approaches. What is sometimes called “rational choice theory” is not a specific theory, but a set of assumptions, which forms the basis for several theoretical approaches. This chapter defines the notion of rationality, highlights the potential of modeling rational behavior and proposes several adjustments to counter its most frequent criticisms.
Jean-Frédéric Morin, Jonathan Paquin

Chapter 8. What Part Does Culture Play in FPA?

A number of analysts saw the emergence of the constructivist movement in the 1990s as the return of the cultural dimension to the study of international relations. In reality, FPA has always been interested in culture. Several researchers devoted their entire careers to studying the role of identities, discourses, norms and cultural practices in foreign policy. If being constructivist means being interested in culture, FPA was constructivist before its time. This chapter presents the cultural components that are of most interest to foreign policy analysts, including norms, identities, roles, genders, organizational cultures, strategic cultures and discourses.
Jean-Frédéric Morin, Jonathan Paquin

Chapter 9. Does the International Structure Explain Foreign Policy?

Theories focusing exclusively on the macroscopic scale of analysis emerged in the 1970s. These theories assign a dominant role to the structure of the international system, which is viewed as an autonomous and regulatory body. They maintain that the state is so entrenched in this international structure and in the organizing principles of international relations, that the structure constrains and largely determines the state’s behavior, just as the market shapes the behavior of investors, producers and consumers. This chapter brings together the microscopic and the macroscopic levels of analysis by looking at how consideration of international structure can contribute to FPA. It looks at the shift toward structural theory of international relations by introducing some of the dominant macroscopic theories and approaches. The chapter then addresses the limits and criticisms of this level of analysis, and presents theoretical propositions that try to reconcile different interpretations of agent and structure role.
Jean-Frédéric Morin, Jonathan Paquin

Chapter 10. What Are the Current Challenges to FPA?

Most of the key notions of contemporary FPA actually emerged over half a century ago. The jargon has changed, the case studies are different and the methods are more sophisticated, but the fundamental conclusions remain much the same. That does not mean that FPA has stagnated for half a century. On the contrary, after its development in the 1960s and before its regeneration in the 2000s, FPA has become immersed in empirical demonstrations. Now that FPA has empirically proven several of its central ideas, this chapter argues that it should focus on theoretical regeneration, which can be achieved by addressing four major challenges. These include (1) establishing the links between different theoretical models; (2) highlighting the comparison between national contexts; (3) extending research to new categories of actors and (4) developing a genuine dialogue with practitioners without losing its identity in the process.
Jean-Frédéric Morin, Jonathan Paquin


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