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Understanding Foreign Policy Decision Making

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About the Authors
  • Understanding Foreign Policy Decision Making presents a decision making approach to foreign policy analysis. This approach focuses on the decision process, dynamics, and outcome, highlighting the role of psychological factors in foreign policy decision making. The book includes a wealth of extended real-world case studies and examples that are woven into the text. The cases and examples, which are written in an accessible style, include decisions made by leaders of the United States, Israel, New Zealand, Cuba, Iceland, United Kingdom, and others. In addition to coverage of the rational model of decision making, levels of analysis of foreign policy decision making, and types of decisions, the book includes extensive material on alternatives to the rational choice model, the marketing and framing of decisions, cognitive biases and errors, and domestic, cultural, and international influences on decision making in international affairs. Existing textbooks do not present such an approach to foreign policy decision making, international relations, American foreign policy, and comparative foreign policy.

    • Provides a decision making approach to foreign policy making and full coverage of psychological aspects of foreign policy decision making
    • A number of case study examples are worked into the text (many of them from a non-US perspective)
    • Focus on biases, errors and models of decision making
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    Reviews & endorsements

    “This book is superb and important.”
    – Bruce Bueno de Mesquita, Silver Professor of Politics, New York University; Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University

    “Mintz and DeRouen have provided readers with a comprehensive overview of what we know about foreign policy decision making. They have made the theories and data come alive through their deft use of case studies to illustrate their points. And they have chosen case studies that involve countries from around the world, not just the United States, giving us insights into how different types of governments and leaders are likely to react to foreign policy problems.”
    – Margaret G. Hermann, Cramer Professor of Global Affairs, Syracuse University

    “This is a superb text on the making of foreign policy, with a distinctive and badly needed emphasis on decision making. The comprehensive coverage of alternative theories and their illustration with a variety of detailed historical examples makes this an excellent introduction for students, and the incorporation of state-of-the-art research from social psychology and other fields makes this a valuable resource for scholars.”
    – Jack S. Levy, Board of Governors Professor, Rutgers University

    “This is a fine survey of varied research on decision making and its political context, with many detailed examples. It will be valuable for students and professionals.”
    – Bruce Russett, Dean Acheson Professor of International Relations, Yale University

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    Product details

    • Date Published: May 2010
    • format: Adobe eBook Reader
    • isbn: 9780511717628
    • contains: 4 b/w illus. 13 tables
    • availability: Adobe Reader ebooks available from
  • Table of Contents

    Part I. Introduction:
    1. Why study foreign policy from a decision making perspective?
    Part II. The Decision Environment:
    2. Types of decisions and levels of analysis in foreign policy decision making
    3. Biases in decision making
    Part III. Models of Decision Making:
    4. The rational actor model
    5. Alternatives to the rational actor model
    Part IV. Determinants of Foreign Policy Decision Making:
    6. Psychological factors shaping foreign policy decisions
    7. International, domestic and cultural factors influencing foreign policy decision making
    Part V. Marketing Foreign Policy:
    8. Marketing, framing and media effects in foreign policy decision making
    Part VI. Conclusion:
    9. Conclusion: wrapping things up
    Appendix: an applied decision analysis exercise and simulation.

  • Instructors have used or reviewed this title for the following courses

    • American Foreign Relations
    • American Foreign and Military Policy
    • Comparative Foreign Policy
    • Foreign Policy Analysis
    • Foreign Policy Decision Making
    • Foreign Policy Process in Developing Nations
    • U.S. National Security
    • US Foregin Policy
    • War Government and Politics in Iraq
    • intelligence operations
  • Authors

    Alex Mintz, Lauder School of Government, IDC
    Alex Mintz is Dean of the Lauder School of Government, Diplomacy and Strategy at IDC-Herzliya, Israel. He is editor of the journal Political Psychology, former co-editor of Foreign Policy Analysis and associate editor of the Journal of Conflict Resolution. Mintz was the 2005 recipient of the Distinguished Scholar Award for distinguished contribution to the field from the Foreign Policy Analysis section of the International Studies Association (ISA). He has published, edited, or co-edited nine books and is the author of multiple journal articles.

    Karl DeRouen Jr, University of Alabama
    Karl DeRouen, Jr, is Professor of Political Science, Director of the International Studies Program, and a College of Arts and Science Faculty Fellow (2008–11) at the University of Alabama. His work has appeared in the Journal of Politics, International Organization, the Journal of Peace Research, the Journal of Conflict Resolution, the British Journal of Political Science and a number of other journals.

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