This chapter examines theories and approaches involved in foreign policy analysis. Foreign policy analysis is concerned with the study of the management of external relations and activities of nation-states, as distinguished from their domestic policies. The chapter first explains the concept of foreign policy before discussing various approaches to foreign policy analysis. It then evaluates the arguments of major theories by using a ‘level-of-analysis’ approach that addresses the international system level, the nation-state level, and the level of the individual decision maker. It also presents a case-study on the Gulf War to illustrate how insights from various approaches to foreign policy analysis can be brought together. A note on foreign policy experts and ‘think tanks’ is included to highlight the extent of research on the subject which extends well beyond universities.
Steve Smith, Amelia Hadfield, and Tim Dunne
This text examines the dynamics that shape foreign policy using international relations (IR) theory. Combining theories and case studies with actors, it explores the grand principles at work in foreign policy, both as a form of state behaviour and as an intellectual field. Chapters illustrate the complementarity between individual, state, and structural dynamics of IR, and levels of analysis found in foreign policy analysis. They discuss the relevance to foreign policy of the main IR theories: realism, liberalism, and constructivism, alongside the tool of discourse analysis. This introduction provides an overview of the contemporary relevance of the study of foreign policy; some of the definitional issues concerning the study of foreign policy; and the book’s updated organization.
This chapter examines the use of discourse analysis in the study of foreign policy. In the study of international relations, discourse analysis is associated with post-structuralism, a theoretical approach that shares realism’s concern with states and power, but differs from realism’s assumption that states are driven by self-interest. It also takes a wider view of power than realists normally do. Post-structuralism draws upon, but also challenges, realism’s three core assumptions: groupism, egoism, and power-centrism. The chapter first considers the theoretical principles that inform post-structuralist discourse analysis before discussing the research designs and methodological techniques employed by discourse analysts. It also offers examples and four learning boxes featuring mini-case studies and locates poststructuralist discourse analysis within the field of foreign policy analysis. Finally, it assesses the strengths and weaknesses of post-structuralist discourse analysis.
This chapter examines theories and approaches involved in foreign policy analysis. Foreign policy analysis (FPA) is concerned with the study of the management of external relations and activities of nation-states, as distinguished from their domestic policies. The chapter first explains the concept of foreign policy before discussing various approaches to foreign policy analysis. It then evaluates the arguments of major theories by using a ‘level-of-analysis’ approach that addresses the international system level, the nation-state level, and the level of the individual decision maker. It also presents a case-study on the Gulf War to illustrate how insights from various approaches to foreign policy analysis can be brought together. The chapters ends with reflections on Donald Trump’s foreign policy and a discussion of how FPA theories have combined domestic and international factors.
Valerie M. Hudson
This chapter traces the history and evolution of foreign policy analysis (FPA) as a subfield of international relations (IR) from its beginnings in the 1950s through its classical period until 1993. It begins with a discussion of three paradigmatic works that laid the foundation of FPA: Decision Making as an Approach to the Study of International Politics (1954), by Richard C. Snyder, H. W. Bruck, and Burton Sapin; ‘Pre-theories and Theories of Foreign Policy’ (1966), by James N. Rosenau; and Man–Milieu Relationship Hypotheses in the Context of International Politics (1956), by Harold and Margaret Sprout. These three works created three main threads of research in FPA: focusing on the decision making of small/large groups, comparative foreign policy, and psychological/sociological explanations of foreign policy. The chapter also reviews classic FPA scholarship during the period 1954–1993 and concludes with an assessment of contemporary FPA’s research agenda.
Edited by Steve Smith, Amelia Hadfield, and Tim Dunne
This text provides an introduction to the ever-changing field of foreign policy. Combining theories, actors, and cases, chapters provide an interesting introduction to what foreign policy is and how it is conducted. With an emphasis throughout on grounding theory in empirical examples, the text features a section dedicated to relevant and topical case studies where foreign policy analysis approaches and theories are applied. Chapters clearly convey the connection between international relations theory, political science, and the development of foreign policy analysis, emphasizing the key debates in the academic community. New chapters focus on such topics as public diplomacy, and media and public opinion. A new case study on Syria examines the forms of intervention that have and have not been adopted by the international community.
Brian C. Schmidt
This chapter focuses on national security, a central concept in foreign policy analysis. A core objective of foreign policy is to achieve national security. However, there is a great deal of ambiguity about the meaning of the concept. Although the traditional meaning of national security is often associated with protecting the sovereignty, territorial integrity, and security of the nation state, this does not exhaust all of the possible meanings. The chapter examines some of the competing conceptions of national security, beginning with the three main assumptions of realism that together help to account for the primacy of national security: statism, survival, and self-help. It then considers the field of security studies before concluding with an assessment of the theoretical controversy about the meaning of national security and how it relates to three American grand strategies: neo-isolationism, liberal internationalism, and primacy.
This chapter examines how actors and structures make foreign policy an extremely complicated field of study and how, in view of this complexity, these actors and structures have been treated in the literature on foreign policy analysis. It first provides a historical background on the field of foreign policy before discussing the role of actors and structures in ‘process’ and ‘policy’ approaches to foreign policy. In particular, it describes approaches to foreign policy based on a structural perspective, namely: realism, neoliberal institutionalism, and social constructivism. It then considers evaluates approaches from an actor-based perspective: cognitive and psychological approaches, bureaucratic politics approach, new liberalism, and interpretative actor perspective. The chapter also looks at the agency–structure problem and asks whether an integrated framework is feasible before concluding with a recommendation of how to resolve the former in terms of a constructive answer to the latter.
Rational, psychological, and neurological models
Janice Gross Stein
This chapter examines the use of rational, psychological, and neurological models in foreign policy decision making. It begins with a discussion of two commonsensical models of rationality in decision making. In the first model, rational decision making refers to the process that people should use to choose. The second, more demanding, models of rational choice expect far more from decision makers. Borrowing heavily from micro-economics, they expect decision makers to generate subjective probability estimates of the consequences of the options that they consider, to update these estimates as they consider new evidence, and to maximize their subjective expected utility. The chapter proceeds by exploring psychological models and the so-called cognitive revolution, the relevance of cognitive psychology to foreign policy analysis, and the ways that the study of the neuroscience of emotion and cognition can be extended to the analysis of foreign policy and to decision making.
Michael J. Hiscox
This chapter examines the domestic sources of foreign economic policies. Different people in every society typically have different views about what their government should do when it comes to setting the policies that regulate international trade, immigration, investment, and exchange rates. These competing demands must be reconciled in some way by the political institutions that govern policy making. To really understand the domestic origins of foreign economic policies, we need to perform two critical tasks: identify or map the policy preferences of different groups in the domestic economy; and specify how political institutions determine the way these preferences are aggregated or converted into actual government decisions. The first task requires some economic analysis, while the second requires some political analysis. These two analytical steps put together like this, combining both economic and political analysis in tandem, are generally referred to as the political economy approach to the study of policy outcomes. The chapter then considers the impact of domestic politics on bargaining over economic issues between governments at the international level.
Michael W. Doyle
This chapter examines the implications of liberalism for foreign policy and foreign policy analysis. Liberal countries have long been known to maintain peaceful relations with each other. Liberal democracies tend to respect and accommodate other democratic countries and negotiate rather than escalate their inter-liberal disputes. However, liberalism can also exacerbate tensions with non-liberal states. The chapter first considers what scholars have meant by liberalism before describing the major features of liberal foreign relations and the three schools of liberal foreign policy analysis: individualist, commercial, and republican. It then explores the effects of liberalism on the international relations of liberal states: incentives for a separate zone of peace among liberal states, imprudent aggression against nonliberals, and complaisance in vital matters of security and economic cooperation. It concludes with reflections on preserving and expanding the liberal peace — while avoiding war with the wider non-liberal world.
William C. Wohlforth
This chapter considers how familiarity with realist theory improves foreign policy analysis (FPA), focusing on two features of realism that are often in tension with each other: its firm grounding in centuries of real foreign policy practice, and its aspiration to create powerful general theories that help to simplify and explain the international setting in which foreign policy takes place. The chapter begins with a discussion of the main theoretical schools within realism, namely, classical realism, defensive realism, offensive realism, and neoclassical realism, as well as theories within realism: balance of power theory, balance of threat theory, hegemonic stability theory, and power transition theory. It also examines how realism is applied to the analysis and practice of foreign policy and highlights the main pitfalls in applying realist theories to FPA. Finally, it evaluates some guidelines for avoiding those pitfalls and using realist insights to sharpen the analysis of foreign policy.
The case for human security as a foreign policy priority
This chapter examines the impact of the Ottawa Process on the use of antipersonnel landmines as well as its significance to foreign policy analysis. The Ottawa Process led to the signing of an international treaty to ban the use and trading of landmines in 1997. It also contributed to the concept of human security and the emerging global principle of responsibility to protect. The chapter first considers the dynamic between governments and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) leading up to the launch of the Ottawa Process before discussing how middle power countries worked with NGOs and used soft power diplomacy to achieve a ban on landmines. It also explores the utility of the Ottawa Process as a model for recent international efforts, including the Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty, the establishment of the International Criminal Court, and the treaties on cluster munitions and the trade in small arms.