Go to Home Page
  Educators Course Syllabi Politics, Pfaltzgraff- World Politics, Theory and Practice, 4-5

Weeks 4 - 5: The Units of Analysis: Decisional and Bureaucratic Units and Foreign Policy Formation

 Topics for Reports:

  1. Foreign Policy Decision-Making Models: Bureaucratic, Rational, Incremental, Cybernetic, etc.
  2. The Cuban Missile Crisis
  3. Decision-Making Models and other Foreign Policy Crises


Printer Friendly

Basic Readings:

Allison, Graham T.
*"Conceptual Models and the Cuban Missile Crisis," American Political Science Review (September 1969), pp.689-718
Dougherty, James E. and Robert L. Pfaltzgraff, Jr.
* Contending Theories of International Relations, Chapter 1
Hermann, Margaret G.
"Explaining Foreign Policy Behavior Using the Personal Characteristics of Political Leaders," International Studies Quarterly, Vol. 24, No. 1 (March 1980), pp.7-47
Steinbruner, John D.
The Cybernetic Theory of Decision: New Dimensions of Political Analysis (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1974), chs. 2-5)
Selected Bibliography:
Allison, Graham
Essence of Decision: The Cuban Missile Crisis (Boston: Little, Brown, and Co., 1973)
Dinerstein, Herbert S.
The Making of a Missile Crisis (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1976)
George, Alexander L.
"The Operational Code: A Neglected Approach to the Study of Political Leaders and Decision-Making," International Studies Quarterly (June 1969), pp.190-222
Halperin, Morton R.
Bureaucratic Politics and Foreign Policy (Washington, DC: Brookings Institution, 1974)
North, Robert C., Ole R. Holsti and Richard A. Brody
"Perception and Action in the Study of International Relations: The 1914 Crisis," Stanford University Studies in International Conflict and Integration (1964)
Paige, Glen D.
The Korean Decision, June 24-30, 1950 (New York: Free Press, 1968)
Robinson, James A. and Richard C. Snyder
"Decision-Making in International Politics," in Herbert C. Kelman, International Behavior (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1965), pp.435-458
Snyder, Glenn H. and Paul Diesing
Conflict Among Nations: Bargaining, Decision-Making and System Structure in International Crises (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1977)
Snyder, Richard B., H.W. Bruck and Burton Sapin
Foreign Policy Decision-Making: An Approach to the Study of International Politics (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1954)
Steiner, Miriam
"The Elusive Essence of Decision: A Critical Comparison of Allison's and Snyder's Decision-Making Approaches," International Studies Quarterly (June 1977)
Young, Robert A., ed.
"International Crisis: Progress and Prospects for Applied Forecasting and Management," Spiral Issue of International Studies Quarterly (March 1977)
Zinnes, Dina A.

"A Comparison of Hostile Behavior of Decision-Makers in Simulated and Historical Data," World Politics, Vol. 18 (April 1966), pp.474-502

"Public-Interest" Groups -- Study Questions, Week 4

  1. Give some reasons why most regulatory agencies "lose their bite."
  2. Name two public-interest groups and some of the issues in which they have been involved.
  3. How do public-interest groups interact with regulatory agencies?
  4. How important overall do you think that public-interest groups are in setting the public-policy agenda and getting action on that agenda? If you think that they are important, to what do attribute their large impact, given their small share of the GNP.
    • How do they get media attention to their concerns?
    • How do they get action?
  5. What are examples of strategies used by public-interest groups use local and state government processes to affect federal policy?
  6. Some public-interest-group"experts" on issues relevant to public policy making for technology obtained their expertise as a result of their associations with government. Some are experts in narrow areas by virtue of their professional research. But most are "self-made."
    Can you give some examples of such self-made experts and how they became recognized as such?
  7. Most public-interest groups have one or less full-time staff members but some are relatively large. Can you give an example of a large "public-interst" group and its scale, measured in full-time professional staff and funding?
  8. Where do "public interest" groups get their funding?
  9. On what grounds can public-interest groups take federal agencies to court?
  10. What is the American Association for the Advancement of Science? How does it contribute to debates over public policy for technology?
  11. How important are the professional societies of scientists and engineers in setting the public-policy agenda? Why are they not more important?

Human-caused Climate Change -- Study Questions, Week 5

  1. What observation of ozone levels finally convinced the countries of the world to phase out the use of CFCs?
  2. How do "greenhouse" gases affect the earth's temperature?
  3. The single most important greenhouse gas -- in terms of the current rate of change of its effect on the earth's surface temperature -- is carbon dioxide. The buildup of other greenhouse gases may be having in total a comparable effect. What are some of these other greenhouse gases and how is man affecting their concentrations in the atmosphere?
  4. How do aerosols -- especially sulphates -- that humans inject into the atmosphere offset the greenhouse effect? Why does the greenhouse effect of the CO2 put into the atmosphere accumulate over hundreds of years while the "anti-greenhouse" effect of the sulphates just depend upon the current rate of injection? What is the implication of this difference for the relative importance of these two effects in the future?
  5. What is the current rate of increase of CO2 in the atmosphere, expressed in: percent per year, parts per million by volume (ppmv) per year, and billions of metric tonnes (one tonne = 1000 kg) per year; and per human being per year?
  6. In roughly what proportions is the carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere dividing itself between the atmosphere and the shallow "mixed" surface layer of the ocean?
  7. What types of environmental effects might result from the buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere?
  8. In view of the fact that these predictions are still quite uncertain, how should our society take them into account in planning its future industrial and infrastructure investments?
  9. The Antarctic ozone hole was not predicted by the theorists. Are there possibilities of unpleasant surprises in the area of greenhouse-caused climate change? What weight should we give these possibilities in deciding on the importance of policies to limit the buildup of greenhouse gases?
  10. What is the "discount" rate used to adjust the relative importance of future and current costs? Why is its value central to the conclusion of many economists that is it not economically justified to invest now to avert major changes in the environment change which might occur one or two centuries from now? Is the discount rate adequate for making decisions about the importance of environmental degradation?