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International Relations - IR

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International Relations-PSC 201
VU
LESSON 30
THE ROLE OF DECISION MAKING IN INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
What is Decision Making?
Decision making implies a conscious choice of one form of behavior alternative. Decisions are implied in
policy making and in implementation of policy strategies. Decision making determines a course of action
which has important consequences.
While the most important decisions are referred to leaderships at the top, various cadres of decision makers
are needed in all institutional structures. In IR, decisions are made concerning foreign policies which
formulate directions for socio-economic activities and defense needs of individual states.
Types of IR Decisions
Programmatic decisions: these are taken after careful deliberation of stated goals and consideration of
alternatives.
Crisis decisions: these are decisions taken in times of grave threat for which there has been no preplanning,
with little luxury of time crisis decisions can require ad hoc responses.
Tactical decisions: these decisions are derived from programmatic decisions. Tactical decisions are subject to
revision, revaluation and reversal depending on outcomes.
Prominent Approaches to Decision Making
Decisions taken in IR can be located within methodological and historical frameworks. A traditional or
historical approach to decision making is essentially descriptive. It focuses on the external behavior of states
based on its particular historical, social, geographic imperatives.
The traditional approach assumes that decisions are made by designated decision makers, and that the
decision making process itself influences decision making alternatives.
The scientific approach seeks to identify coherent variables which effect the decision making process. The
scientific approach has identified five crucial variables in this regard:
i)
Idiosyncratic variables: focus on individual personality characteristics of decision makers (greatest
importance in crisis decisions where little planning and advice can be accommodated).
ii)
Role variables: focus on defined expectations of decision makers and opinion makers (diplomats,
politicians, and media) who influence their output. Roles are most important in programmatic
decisions.
iii)
Bureaucratic variables: focus on processes and structures of government institutions and how they
influence foreign policy.
iv)
National variables: geographic location, size, natural resources, population characteristic of
individual nations also influence decisions. For example, a strategically located nation must be
assertive itself or ensure protection of a bigger power; an insular state tends to avoid alliances; and
populist states tend to be expansionist.
v)
Systematic variables: external variables like the prevailing world order, international regulatory
frameworks, power balances are also considered vital in terms of foreign policy.
Political parties, pressure groups, public opinion are recognized to influence decision making processes
much more in democratic than authoritarian states.
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International Relations-PSC 201
VU
Relevant Vocabulary
Alternatives: other available options
Idiosyncrasies: peculiarity
Strategy: on a carefully thought plan
Framework: structure, outline or context
Vital: important or crucial
Authoritarian: dictatorial
Prevailing: existing
Suggested Readings
Students are advised to read the following chapters to develop a better understanding of the various
principals highlighted in this hand-out:
Chapter 8 in `"A Study of International Relations" by Dr. Sultan Khan
Internet Resources
In addition to reading from the textbook, please visit the following web-pages for this lecture, which
provide useful and interesting information:
Decision making: Individual and Group Influences on Foreign Policy
http://www.wwnorton.com/web/ir/chapters/ch6/critical-thinking.htm
Table of Contents:
  1. WHAT IS INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND WHAT IS ITS RELEVANCE?
  2. APPROACHES TO INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS: THEORIES IN IR
  3. APPROACHES TO INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS:Traditional Approach
  4. THE NATION-STATE SYSTEM:Further Evolution of Nation-State
  5. THE NATION STATE SYSTEM: BASIC FEATURES OF A NATION-STATE
  6. NATIONAL INTEREST:Criteria for Defining National Interest
  7. NATIONAL INTEREST:Variations in National Interest, Relevant Vocabulary
  8. BALANCE OF POWER (BOP):BoP from a historical perspective
  9. BALANCE OF POWER (CONTINUED):Degree of Polarization, Functions of BoP
  10. DIPLOMACY:How Diplomacy Functions, Traditional Versus Modern Diplomacy
  11. DIPLOMACY (CONTINUED):Diplomatic Procedures & Practices, Functions of Diplomacy
  12. COLONIALISM, NEO-COLONIALISM & IMPERIALISM:Judging Colonization
  13. COLONIALISM, NEO-COLONIALISM & IMPERIALISM:Types of Neo-Colonialism
  14. COLONIALISM, NEO-COLONIALISM & IMPERIALISM:Objectives of Imperialism
  15. NEW INTERNATIONAL ECONOMIC ORDER:Criticism of IEO, NIEO Activities
  16. NEW INTERNATIONAL ECONOMIC ORDER:Prerequisites for the NIEO
  17. NON-ALIGNMENT MOVEMENT:Origin of NAM, NAMís Institutional Structure
  18. NON-ALIGNMENT MOVEMENT (CONTINUED):Cairo Summit, Egypt - 1964
  19. NON-ALIGNMENT MOVEMENT:Criticism of NAM, NAM and Pakistan
  20. THE COLD WAR AND ITS IMPACTS - INTRODUCING THE COLD WAR PHENOMENON
  21. THE COLD WAR AND ITS IMPACTS (CONTINUED):Truman Doctrine, Marshal Plan
  22. THE COLD WAR AND ITS IMPACTS (CONTINUED):End of the Cold War
  23. DISARMAMENT AND ARMS CONTROL:History of Disarmament
  24. DISARMAMENT AND ARMS CONTROL (CONTINUED):Other Disarmament Efforts
  25. THE RELEVANCE OF INTERNATIONAL LAW IN INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
  26. THE RELEVANCE OF INTERNATIONAL LAW IN INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS (CONTINUED)
  27. INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS:Need for IGOs, Categorizing IGOs
  28. INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS (CONTINUED):United Nations, Criticism of the UN
  29. INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS (CONTINUED):European Union, World Bank
  30. THE ROLE OF DECISION MAKING IN INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
  31. DECISION MAKING (CONTINUED):Rational Actor Model, Group Politics Model
  32. SYSTEMS APPROACH TO IR:Underlying Assumptions, Elements of the System
  33. SYSTEMS BASED APPROACH (CONTINUED) Ė DISTINCT SYSTEMS IN IR
  34. LIBERALISM AND SOCIAL DEMOCRACY:Neoliberalism
  35. LIBERALISM AND SOCIAL DEMOCRACY (CONTINUED):Liberalism vs. Social Democracy
  36. INTEGRATION IN IR:Preconditions for Integration, Assessing Integration
  37. GLOBALIZATION AND ITS IMPLICATIONS:Advocates of Globalization
  38. THE GLOBAL DIVIDE:World Social Forum, Can the Global Divide Be Bridged?
  39. FOCUS ON FOREIGN INVESTMENTS:Pro-poor Foreign Investments
  40. CONFLICT AND CONFLICT RESOLUTION:Components of a Conflict
  41. CONFLICT RESOLUTION:Creative response, Appropriate assertiveness
  42. THE GLOBAL ENVIRONMENT:Global Concern for the Environment
  43. THE GLOBAL ENVIRONMENT:Environmental Concerns and IR, Some Other Issues
  44. HOW IR DIFFER FROM DOMESTIC POLITICS?:Strategies for altering state behavior
  45. CHANGE AND IR:Continuity in IR, Causality and counterfactuals, IR in a nutshell