Skip to main content

Introduction: epistemic communities and international policy coordination

  • Peter M. Haas

How decision makers define state interests and formulate policies to deal with complex and technical issues can be a function of the manner in which the issues are represented by specialists to whom they turn for advice in the face of uncertainty. The contributors to this issue examine the role that networks of knowledge-based experts—epistemic communities—play in articulating the cause-and-effect relationships of complex problems, helping states identify their interests, framing the issues for collective debate, proposing specific policies, and identifying salient points for negotiation. Their analyses demonstrate that control over knowledge and information is an important dimension of power and that the diffusion of new ideas and data can lead to new patterns of behavior and prove to be an important determinant of international policy coordination.

Hide All

For their comments on earlier versions of this article, I am grateful to Pete Andrews, Peter Cowhey, Barbara Crane, George Hoberg, Raymond Hopkins, Ethan Kapstein, Peter Katzenstein, Stephen Krasner, Craig Murphy, John Odell, Gail Osherenko, M. J. Peterson, Gene Rochlin, and Richard Sclove.

1. See, for example, Wendt, Alexander E., “The Agent-Structure Problem,” International Organization 41 (Summer 1987), pp. 335–70;Archer, Margaret S., “Morphogenesis Versus Structuration: On Combining Structure and Action,” British Journal of Sociology 33 (12 1982), pp. 455–83;Dessler, David, “What's at Stake in the Agent-Structure Debate?International Organization 43 (Summer 1989), pp. 441–73;Gourevitch, Peter, “The Second Image Reversed: The International Sources of Domestic Politics,” International Organization 32 (Autumn 1978), pp. 881912; Katzenstein, Peter J., ed., Between Power and Plenty: Foreign Economic Policies of Advanced Industrial States (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1977); Katzenstein, Peter J., Small States in World Markets (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1986); Putnam, Robert, “Diplomacy and Domestic Politics: The Logic of Two-Level Games,” International Organization 42 (Summer 1988), pp. 427–60;Evans, Peter B., Rueschemeyer, Dietrich, and Skocpol, Theda, eds., Bringing the State Back In (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985); Nordlinger, Eric A., “Taking the State Seriously,” in Weiner, Myron and Huntington, Samuel P., eds., Understanding Political Development (Boston: Little, Brown, 1987), pp. 353–90;Benjamin, Roger and Duvall, Raymond, “The Capitalist State in Context,” in Benjamin, Roger and Elkin, Stephen L., eds., The Democratic State (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1985), pp. 1957; Krasner, Stephen D., “Approaches to the State,” Comparative Politics 16 (01 1984), pp. 223–46; and Lentner, Howard M., “The Concept of the State: A Response to Krasner,” Comparative Politics 16 (04 1984), pp. 367–77.

2. See Keohane, Robert O., “International Institutions: Two Approaches,” International Studies Quarterly 32 (12 1988), pp. 379–96.

3. Krasner acknowledges the importance of shared beliefs in explaining the Group of 77 (G-77) cooperation and also discusses the role of shared understanding in regime creation. See the following works of Krasner, Stephen D.: Structural Conflict (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985), p. 9; and “Regimes and the Limits of Realism: Regimes as Autonomous Variables,” in Krasner, Stephen D., ed., International Regimes (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1983), p. 368. Keohane notes the possibility that states may learn to recalculate their interests, and Gilpin also acknowledges that states occasionally “learn to be more enlightened in their definitions of their interests and can learn to be more cooperative in their behavior.” See Keohane, Robert O., After Hegemony (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1984), pp. 131–32; and Gilpin, Robert, War and Change in World Politics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981), p. 227.

4. The term “epistemic communities” has been defined or used in a variety of ways, most frequently to refer to scientific communities. In this volume, we stress that epistemic communities need not be made up of natural scientists or of professionals applying the same methodology that natural scientists do. Moreover, when referring to epistemic communities consisting primarily of natural scientists, we adopt a stricter definition than do, for example, Holzner and Marx, who use the term “epistemic community” in reference to a shared faith in the scientific method as a way of generating truth. This ignores that such faith can still bond together people with diverse interpretations of ambiguous data. By our definition, what bonds members of an epistemic community is their shared belief or faith in the verity and the applicability of particular forms of knowledge or specific truths. Our notion of “epistemic community” somewhat resembles Fleck's notion of a “thought collective”—a sociological group with a common style of thinking. It also somewhat resembles Kuhn's broader sociological definition of a paradigm, which is “an entire constellation of beliefs, values, techniques, and so on shared by members of a given community” and which governs “not a subject matter but a group of practitioners.” See Holzner, Burkhart and Marx, John H., Knowledge Application: The Knowledge System in Society (Boston: Allyn & Bacon, 1979), pp. 107–11;Fleck, Ludwig, Genesis and Development of a Scientific Fact (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1979; translated from the 1935 edition printed in German); and Kuhn, Thomas S., The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, 2d ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1970), pp. 174210, with quotes drawn from pp. 175 and 180. Regarding scientific communities, See alsoPolanyi, Michael, “The Republic of Science,” Minerva, vol. 1, 1962, pp. 5473.

5. Other characteristics of epistemic communities that were mentioned or discussed during the preparation of this volume included the following: members of an epistemic community share intersubjective understandings; have a shared way of knowing; have shared patterns of reasoning; have a policy project drawing on shared values, shared causal beliefs, and the use of shared discursive practices; and have a shared commitment to the application and production of knowledge. These phrases were not incorporated in the formal definition listed here; they are simply provided to evoke additional notions that are associated with epistemic communities. a For examples, See Gilpin, Robert, War and Change in World Politics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981); Krasner, Stephen D., Structural Conflict (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985); and Waltz, Kenneth N., Theory of International Politics (Reading, Mass.: Addison-Wesley, 1979). b For examples, See Cardoso, Fernando Henrique and Faletto, Enzo, Dependency and Development in Latin America (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1979); Evans, Peter, Dependent Development (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1979); Evans, Peter, “Declining Hegemony and Assertive Industrialization,” International Organization 43 (Spring 1989), pp. 207–38;Galtung, Johan, The True Worlds (New York: Free Press, 1984); and Wallerstein, Immanuel, The Capitalist World Economy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1979). c For examples, See Derian, James Der and Shapiro, Michael J., eds., International/Intertextual Relations (Lexington, Mass.: Lexington Books, 1989); and Ashley, Richard K. and Walker, R. B. J., eds., “Speaking the Language of Exile Dissidence in International Studies,” special issue of International Studies Quarterly, vol. 34, no. 3, 09 1990.

6. A number of earlier studies focusing on the interplay between expertise, technical issues, consensual knowledge, and state power have considered the role of epistemic-like communities in the decision-making process. At the level of international organizations, such studies have been undertaken with regard to wide variety of issue-areas and have demonstrated that webs of nonstate actors provided information and were involved in the shaping of agendas and the defining of state interests. While all of these studies cannot be listed here, a few examples show the range of areas analyzed: Russell, Robert W., “Transgovernmental Interaction in the International Monetary System, 19601972,” International Organization 27 (Autumn 1973), pp. 431–64;Ascher, William, “New Development Approaches and the Adaptability of International Agencies: The Case of the World Bank,” International Organization 37 (Summer 1983), pp. 415–39;Crane, Barbara B. and Finkle, Jason L., “Population Policy and World Politics,” paper presented at the Fourteenth World Congress of the International Political Science Association, Washington, D.C., 28 08 to 1 09 1988; Haas, Peter M., Saving the Mediterranean: The Politics of International Environmental Protection (New York: Columbia University Press, 1990); Johnson, Barbara, “Technocrats and the Management of International Fisheries,” International Organization 29 (Summer 1975), pp. 745–70; and Wooster, Warren S., “Interactions Between Intergovernmental and Scientific Organizations in Marine Affairs,” International Organization 27 (Winter 1973), pp. 103–13. For examples of studies in comparative politics that discuss the role of epistemic-like communities in the development and enforcement of common policies, See Weir, Margaret and Skocpol, Theda, “State Structures and the Possibilities for ‘Keynesian’ Responses to the Great Depression in Sweden, Britain, and the United States,” in Evans, Rueschemeyer, and Skocpol, Bringing the State Back In, pp. 107–68;Hall, Peter A., Governing the Economy (Cambridge: Polity Press, 1986), pp. 275 ff.; and King, Anthony, “Ideas, Institutions, and Policies of Governments: A Comparative Analysis” (in 3 parts), British Journal of Political Science 3 (07 and 10 1973), pp. 291313 and 409–23. With respect to policy coordination, it is worth stressing that even if actors believe that their common understandings will contribute to enhancing the collective good, serious unanticipated consequences are possible; See Evera, Stephen Van, “Cult of the Offensive and the Origins of the First World War,” International Security 9 (Summer 1984), pp. 58107. For examples of purely national studies that discuss the role of epistemic-like communities in transforming state preferences, see Odell, John, U.S. International Monetary Policy (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1982); Adler, Emanuel, “Brazil's Domestic Computer Industry,” International Organization 40 (Summer 1986), pp. 673705; and Hodgson, Dennis, “Orthodoxy and Revisionism in American Demography,” Population and Development Review 14 (12 1988), pp. 541–69.

7. While the transfer of authority to the sphere of the secular and the rational can be traced back to the eighteenth century and the granting of Noblesse de la Robe in France, the integration of scientists and engineers into a new rationalized corporate structure really began with the second industrial revolution of the 1880s. For background information, see Ford, Franklin L., Robe and Sword (New York: Harper, 1953), pp. 248–52. Regarding the acceleration of technically grounded forms of governance and decision making, see Mowery, David C. and Rosenberg, Nathan, Technology and the Pursuit of Economic Growth (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989); Yates, JoAnne, Control Through Communication (Baltimore, Md.: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1990); Chandler, Alfred D., Strategy and Structure.: Chapters in the History of the American Industrial Enterprise (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1966); Chandler, Alfred D., The Visible Hand: The Managerial Revolution in American Business (Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press, 1977); and Dupree, A. Hunter, ed., Science and the Emergence of Modern America, 1865–1916 (Chicago: Rand McNally, 1963).

8. Harvey Brooks, “Scientific Concepts and Cultural Change,” Daedalus 94 (Winter 1965), p. 68.

9. See Suleiman, Ezra N., ed., Bureaucrats and Policy Making: A Comparative Overview (New York: Holmes & Meier, 1984); Aberbach, Joel D., Putnam, Robert D., and Rockman, Bert A., Bureaucrats and Politicians in Western Democracies (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1981); Wilson, James Q., ed., The Politics of Regulation (New York: Basic Books, 1980); and Moe, Terry M., “The Politics of Bureaucratic Structure,” in Chubb, John E. and Patterson, Paul E., eds., Can the Government Govern? (Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution, 1989), pp. 267328.

10. See Blondell, Jean, The Organization of Governments (Beverly Hills, Calif.: Sage, 1982), pp. 195–96. For data on the professional backgrounds of ministers and individuals occupying other ministerial posts, see Blondell, Jean, Government Ministers in the Contemporary World (Beverly Hills, Calif.: Sage, 1982). Blondell notes that 9.5 percent of the ministers serving between 1945 and 1981 could be considered “specialists,” with most of this group consisting of civil engineers, electrical engineers, and agronomists.

11. See Majone, Giandomenico, “Regulatory Policies in Transition,” Jahrbuch für neue politische Okonomie (Tübingen: J. C. B. Mohr, 1984), p. 158. For discussions of the progressive expansion and professionalization of bureaucracies in the United States, see Skowronek, Stephen, Building a New American State: The Expansion of National Administrative Capacities, 1877–1920 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982); Maier, Charles, ed., Changing Boundaries of the Political (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987); Galambos, Louis, ed., The New American State: Bureaucracies and Policies Since World War II (Baltimore, Md.: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1987); Smith, Bruce L. R., American Science Policy Since World War II (Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution, 1990), pp. 2835; Gilpin, Robert and Wright, Christopher, eds., Scientists and National Policy Making (New York: Columbia University Press, 1964); and Kistiakowsky, George, A Scientist at the White House (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1976).

12. Dror, Yehezkel, Policymaking Under Adversity (New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction Books, 1986).

13. Jawaharlal Nehru, arguing that less developed countries must also turn toward science, offered the following rationale: “It is science alone that can solve the problems of hunger and poverty, of insanitation and illiteracy, of superstition and deadening custom and tradition, of vast resources running to waste, of a rich country inhabited by starving people…. Who indeed could afford to ignore science today? At every turn we have to seek its aid…. The future belongs to science and those who make friends with science.” Nehru is quoted by Perutz, Max F. in Is Science Necessary? (New York: E. P. Dutton, 1989), p. vii.

14. See National Science Foundation, Federal Scientific and Technical Workers: Numbers and Characteristics, 1973 and 1983 (Washington, D.C.: National Science Foundation, 1985), pp. 12. During the period from 1973 to 1978, the increase in scientists, engineers, and computer specialists occurred largely outside the Defense Department.

15. See Nelkin, Dorothy, “Scientific Knowledge, Public Policy, and Democracy,” Knowledge Creation, Diffusion, Utilization 1 (09 1979), p. 107. See also Nelkin, Dorothy, “The Political Impact of Technical Expertise,” Social Studies of Science 5 (02 1975), pp. 3554. For a critical view of the role of scientists in decision making, see Primack, Joel and Hippel, Frank Von, Advice and Dissent (New York: Basic Books, 1974).

16. See Aberbach, , Putnam, , and Rockman, , Bureaucrats and Politicians in Western Democracies.

17. See Hays, Samuel P., Beauty, Health, and Permanence: Environmental Politics in the United States, 1955–1985 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987), pp. 357–59;Gormley, William T. Jr, “Professionalism Within Environmental Bureaucracies: The Policy Implications of Personnel Choices,” La Follette Institute of Public Affairs, occasional paper no. 1, Madison, Wisc., 12 1986; and Dietz, Thomas M. and Rycroft, Robert, The Risk Professionals (New York: Russell Sage, 1987).

18. See Fromuth, Peter and Raymond, Ruth, “U.N. Personnel Policy Issues,” in United Nations Management and Decision-Making Project (New York: United Nations, 1987), p. 13. See also Williams, Douglas, The Specialized Agencies and the United Nations (London: C. Hurst, 1987), p. 254.

19. See Mango, Anthony, “The Role of Secretariats of International Institutions,” in Taylor, Paul and Groom, A. J. R., eds., International Institutions at Work (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1986), pp. 4043. Based on his survey of 75 percent of the UN's professional staff, Mango concluded that about 4,000 served key functions “in all areas of human endeavor from peace and disarmament to health, nutrition, industry, communications, and the environment.” Thus, for the full 100 percent of the staff, the figure may have reached 5,000.

20. The percentage of the UN budget allocated for specialized agencies steadily rose from 45.1 percent in 1950 to 60.5 percent in 1985. With the adoption of the Kaasebaum amendment, the percentage has remained at the 1985 level. Two specialized areas involving science and technology—that of food and agriculture and that of health—have come to control over 25 percent of the resources of the UN system. See UN document nos. A/1312, A/3023, A/6122, A/7608, A/42/683, and A/10360, UN, New York, 1951, 1956, 1967, 1971, 1976, and 1986, respectively. The highest postwar rates of growth for new international scientific and professional associations (ISPAs) was also in the areas of science and technology, followed by economics and finance. See Crane, Diana, “Alternative Models of ISPAs,” in Evan, William M., ed., Knowledge and Power in a Global Society (Beverly Hills, Calif.: Sage, 1981), p. 30; and Feld, Werner, “Nongovernmental Entities and the International System,” Orbis 15 (Fall 1971), pp. 879922.

21. See Barnes, Barry and Edge, David, “General Introduction,” in Barnes, Barry and Edge, David, eds., Science in Context (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1982), p. 2. For an argument that the influence of scientific specialists often extends to areas beyond their formal training, see Weinberg, Alvin M., “Science and Trans-Science,” Minerva 10 (04 1972), pp. 209–22.

22. See Moe, Terry M., “The New Economics of Organization,” American Journal of Political Science 28 (11 1984), pp. 739–77; and Bendor, Jonathan, Taylor, Serge, and Gaalen, Roland Van, “Stacking the Deck: Bureaucratic Missions and Policy Design,” American Political Science Review 81 (09 1987), pp. 873–96.

23. See Ezhrahi, Yaron, “Utopian and Pragmatic Rationalism: The Political Context of Scientific Advice,” Minerva 18 (Spring 1980), pp. 111–31;Rich, Robert F., “The Pursuit of Knowledge,” Knowledge Creation, Diffusion, Utilization 1 (09 1979), pp. 630; Socolow, Robert H., “Failures of Discourse,” in Feiveson, Harold A., Sinden, Frank W., and Socolow, Robert H., eds., Boundaries of Analysis (Cambridge, Mass.: Ballinger, 1976); and deLeon, Peter, Advice and Consent: The Development of the Policy Sciences (New York: Russell Sage, 1988).

24. See Nelkin, Dorothy, ed., Controversy: Politics of Technical Decisions (Beverly Hills, Calif.: Sage, 1979); Mulkay, Michael, Science and the Sociology of Knowledge (London: Allen & Unwin, 1979); Kornhauser, William, Scientists in Industry (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1962); and Weingart, Peter, “The Scientific Power Elite: A Chimera,” in Elias, Norbert, Martins, Herminio, and Whitley, Richard, eds., Scientific Establishments and Hierarchies (Dordrecht, Netherlands: Reidel, 1982), pp. 7188.

25. See Ruggie, John G., “Collective Goods and Future International Collaboration,” American Political Science Review 66 (09 1972), pp. 874–93;Nau, Henry R., National Politics and International Technology (Baltimore, Md.: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1974); and Williams, Roger, European Technology: The Politics of Cooperation (New York: Wiley, 1974).

26. For discussions of these changes and the increasing social, economic, and political interdependence that accompanied them, see, for example, Porte, Todd R. La, ed., Organized Social Complexity (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1975); Levy, Marion, Modernization and the Structure of Societies (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1966); Inkeles, Alex, “Emerging Social Structure of the World,” World Politics 27 (07 1975), pp. 467–95;Polyani, Karl, The Great Transformation (Boston: Beacon Press, 1944); Cooper, Richard, The Economics of Interdependence (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1968); Keohane, Robert O. and Nye, Joseph S., Power and Interdependence: World Politics in Transition (Boston: Little, Brown, 1977); Morse, Edward, Modernization and the Transformation of International Relations (New York: Free Press, 1976); Ruggie, John G., “Continuity and Transformation in the World Polity,” World Politics 35 (01 1983), pp. 261–85; and Toulmin, Stephen, Cosmopolis: The Hidden Agenda of Modernization (New York: Free Press, 1990). For discussions of increasing ecological interdependence, see Clark, W. C. and Munn, R. E., eds., Sustainable Development of the Biosphere (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986); and Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Economic and Ecological Interdependence (Paris: OECD, 1982).

27. Regarding uncertainty and the turn to specialists for advice, see Dror, Policymaking Under Adversity, pp. 6061; Wilensky, Harold, Organizational Intelligence (New York: Basic Books, 1967); Benveniste, Guy, The Politics of Expertise (San Francisco: Boyd & Fraser, 1977); William Ascher, “New Development Approaches and the Adaptability of International Agencies”; Hirshleifer, J. and Riley, John G., “The Analytics of Uncertainty and Information: An Expository Survey,” Journal of Economic Literature 17 (12 1979), pp. 13751412; Brennan, Geoffrey and Buchanan, James M., The Reason of Rules (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985), chap. 2;Slouka, Zdenek J., “International Law Making: A View from Technology,” in Onuf, Nicholas Greenwood, ed., Law Making in the Global Community (Durham, N.C.: Carolina Academic Press, 1982), p. 149;Winner, Langdon, “Complexity and the Limits of Human Understanding,” in La Porte, Organized Social Complexity, pp. 4076; and Spiegel-Rosing, Ina and Price, Derek De Solla, eds., Science, Technology and Society (Beverly Hills, Calif.: Sage, 1977).

28. Aho, C. Michael and Levinson, Marc, After Reagan: Confronting the Changed World Economy (New York: Council on Foreign Relations, 1988), p. 8.

29. George, Alexander, Presidential Decision Making in Foreign Policy: The Effective Use of Information and Advice (Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press, 1980), pp. 2627.

30. Alchian, Armen A., “Uncertainty, Evolution, and Economic Theory,” Journal of Political Economy, vol. 58, 1950, pp. 211–21.

31. See Stein, Arthur A., Why Nations Cooperate (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1990), chap. 3;Jervis, Robert, Perception and Misperception in International Politics (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1976); Snyder, Glenn H. and Diesing, Paul, Conflict Among Nations (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1977); and Vertzberger, Yaacov Y. I., The World in Their Minds (Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1990).

32. In Markets and Hierarchies (New York: Free Press, 1975), Oliver Williamson argues that under conditions of uncertainty, organizations are likely to develop internal methods to generate more and better information instead of turning to external sources.

33. See Kahneman, Daniel, Slovic, Paul, and Tversky, Amos, eds., Judgement Under Uncertainty: Heuristics and Biases (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982).

34. See Elster, Jon, Explaining Technical Change (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983), p. 185. See also Steinbruner, John D., The Cybernetic Theory of Decision (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1974), pp. 1718; and Simon, Herbert, “Rationality as Process and as Product of Thought,” American Economic Review 68 (05 1978), pp. 116.

35. See King, Lauriston R. and Melanson, Philip H., “Knowledge and Politics: Some Experiences from the 1960s,” Public Policy 20 (Winter 1972), p. 84. For similar observations, see Perl, Martin L., “The Scientific Advisory System: Some Observations,” Science 173 (09 1971), pp. 1211–15.

36. Schattschneider, E. E., The Semisovereign People (Hinsdale, lll.: Dryden Press, 1975), p. 66.

37. See the following works by Simon, Herbert A.: Reason in Human Affairs (Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1983); and Human Nature in Politics: The Dialogue of Psychology with Political Science,” The American Political Science Review 79 (06 1985), pp. 293304.

38. See Schluchter, Wolfgang, “Modes of Authority and Democratic Control,” in Meja, Volker, Misgeld, Dieter, and Stehr, Nico, eds., Modern German Sociology (New York: Columbia University Press, 1987), p. 297. “It seems that in the case of functional authority,” writes Schluchter, “it is the ‘trust’ institutionalized in the internal relations between ‘experts’ that communicates to outsiders faith in the value of specialized knowledge.”

39. According to the definition of epistemic communities employed in this volume, community members have intersubjective, internally defined validity tests. This contrasts with Ernst Haas's usage of the concept of epistemic communities, in which he explicitly mentions that such communities “profess beliefs in extracommunity reality tests.” See Haas, Ernst B., When Knowledge Is Power (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990), p. 41. Although there are other differences between his and our usage, they are fairly minor. I believe that this particular difference in emphasis on intracommunity versus extracommunity truth tests springs primarily from differing overarching historical visions. Ernst Haas seeks to demonstrate the evolution of rationality over time, possibly through the gradual intercession of epistemic communities into collective decision making. For such a normative claim to be sustained, the epistemic community must share a common basis for validation of its understanding with the broader policy community. Conversely, I am much more skeptical about such universal validity claims and am content to settle for the less ambitious internal truth tests. While in most cases members outside the epistemic community may concur that validity claims exist, it is less clear that they would be able to identify or evaluate them.

40. According to A. M. Carr-Saunders, “What we now call a profession emerges when a number of persons are found to be practicing a definite technique founded upon specialized training.” Carr-Saunders's classic formulation is cited by Vollmer, Howard M. and Mills, Donald L. in Professionalization (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1966), p. 3. Subsequent sociologists have formulated a fuller definition that includes a reputation for authority, society's sanction, barriers to entry, a regulative code of conduct, and a service orientation. See Wilensky, Harold L., “The Professionalization of Everyone,” American Journal of Sociology 70 (09 1964), pp. 137–58; and Schluchter, “Modes of Authority and Democratic Control.”

41. See Derber, Charles, Schwartz, William A., and Magrass, Yale, Power in the Highest Degree (New York: Oxford University Press, 1990), p. 136.

42. This occurred in the context of efforts to control pollution in the Mediterranean, when several groups of natural scientists allied with the ecological epistemic community. While these scientists shared some of the causal beliefs and policy concerns of the epistemic community, they did not share its full array of normative and causal beliefs. See Haas, Peter M., “Do Regimes Matter? Epistemic Communities and Mediterranean Pollution Control,” International Organization 43 (Summer 1989), pp. 386–87.

43. See Allison, Graham T., Essence of Decision (Boston: Little, Brown, 1971); and Art, Robert J., “Bureaucratic Politics and American Foreign Policy,” Policy Sciences 4 (12 1973), pp. 467–90.

44. See Hechter, Michael, Principles of Group Solidarity (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1987); and Olson, Mancur, The Logic of Collective Action (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1965).

45. Ben-David, Joseph, The Scientist's Role in Society (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1984), pp. 56.

46. See Berger, Peter L. and Luckman, Thomas, The Social Construction of Reality (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday Anchor, 1967). See also Toulmin, Stephen, ed., Physical Reality (New York: Harper & Row, 1970). Toulmin's book includes a turn-of-the-century exchange between Max Planck and Ernst Mach regarding whether quantum mechanics occurs in the mind or in the world.

47. Holzner, and Marx, , Knowledge Application, p. 93.

48. See Woolgar, Steve, Science: The Very Idea (London: Tavistock, 1988); and Knorr-Cetina, Karin D. and Mulkay, Michael, eds., Science Observed: Perspectives on the Social Study of Science (London: Sage, 1983). For a balanced presentation of the radical and more moderate constructivist views, see Hollis, M. and Lukes, S., eds., Rationality and Relativism (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1982).

49. See Rouse, Joseph, Knowledge and Power (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1987); Rorty, Richard, Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1979); and Munz, Peter, Our Knowledge of the Growth of Knowledge (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1985).

50. See Campbell, Donald T., “Evolutionary Epistemology,” in Schilpp, P. A., ed., The Philosophy of Karl Popper (LaSalle, lll.: Open Court Publishing, 1974), pp. 413–63;Campbell, Donald T. and Palier, Bonnie T., “Extending Evolutionary Epistemology to ‘Justifying’ Scientific Beliefs,” in Halweg, Kai and Hooker, C. A., eds., Issues in Evolutionary Epistemology (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1989), pp. 231–57;Toulmin, Stephen, Human Understanding: The Collective Use and Evolution of Concepts (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1972); Laudan, Larry, Progress and Its Problems (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1977); and Laudan, Larry, Science and Values (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1984).

51. See Tesh, Sylvia Noble, Hidden Arguments: Political Ideology and Disease Prevention Policy (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1988); and Habermas, Jürgen, Knowledge and Human Interests (Boston: Beacon Press, 1971). Mannheim's approach was a precursor of this approach, although his was more directed toward social sciences than toward natural sciences. See Mannheim, Karl, Ideology and Utopia (New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1936).

52. See Pitkin, Hannah, Wittgenstein and Justice (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1972); Laitin, David, Politics, Language, and Thought (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1977); and Whorf, Benjamin, Language, Thought, and Reality (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1956). Pitkin, following Wittgenstein, argues that language is a socially created artifact. Others argue for the strong influence of external reality on language, based on evidence of the correlation between languages with respect to particular perceptual concepts. See Lukes, Steven, “Relativism in Its Place,” in Hollis and Lukes, Rationality and Relativism, pp. 261305; Cole, Michael and Scribner, Sylvia, Culture and Thought (New York: Wiley, 1974); and Segall, Marshal H., Campbell, Donald T., and Herskovits, Melville J., The Influence of Culture on Visual Perception (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1966).

53. See Rouse, , Knowledge and Power, pp. 34. Rouse also notes that “even the simplest concepts, such as ‘yellow’ or ‘ball,’ have been said to involve far-reaching theoretic assumptions.”

54. See Dickson, David, “Limiting Democracy: Technocrats and the Liberal State,” Democracy 1 (01 1981), pp. 6179; Laird, Frank N., “Limiting Democracy: Participation, Competence, and Energy Policy,” Ph.D. diss., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, 1985; and Sclove, Richard Evan, Technology and Freedom (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, forthcoming).

55. See Macrae, Duncan Jr, “Technical Communities and Political Choice,” Minerva 14 (Spring 1976), pp. 169–90;Noble, David F., America by Design: Science, Technology, and the Rise of Corporate Capitalism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1977); and Nelkin, “Scientific Knowledge, Public Policy, and Democracy.” See also Gouldner, Alvin W., The Future of Intellectuals and the Rise of the New Class (New York: Seabury Press, 1979), in which Gouldner argues that the social consequences of conferring steering authority on particular groups remain unclear.

56. See Popper, Karl, Objective Knowledge (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1972). See also Lakatos, Imre, “Falsification and the Methodology of Scientific Research Programmes,” in Lakatos, Imre and Musgrove, Alan, eds., Criticism and the Growth of Knowledge (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1970), pp. 91196. Lakatos offers a sophisticated extension of this argument, with normative suggestions for how to do scientific research and positive suggestions for how to evaluate truth claims from contending research programs. For an alternative viewpoint, see Feyeraband, Paul, Against Method (New York: Schocken, 1978).

57. See Habermas, , Knowledge and Human Interests.

58. Disciplining beliefs and practices are discussed by Michel Foucault in the following works, for example: Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison (New York: Vintage Books, 1979); The History of Sexuality (New York: Pantheon Books, 1978); and The Birth of the Clinic (New York: Pantheon Books, 1973).

59. Two other examples are noteworthy. Although U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop opposed abortion on personal grounds, he did not succumb to political pressures to publicly oppose it on medical grounds. A Catholic priest trained in carbon dating techniques offered evidence against the claims that the shroud found in Turin was Christ's shroud.

60. See Kindleberger, Charles, “The Rise of Free Trade in Western Europe,” Journal of Economic History 35 (03 1975), pp. 2055. See also Goldstein, Judith, “Ideas, Institutions, and Trade Policy,” International Organization 42 (Winter 1988), pp. 179217; Goldstein, Judith, “The Impact of Ideas on Trade Policy,” International Organization 43 (Winter 1989), pp. 3171; and Odell, , U.S. International Monetary Policy.

61. Keynes, John Maynard, The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money (New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1936), p. 383.

62. Ruggie, John Gerard, “International Responses to Technology,” International Organization 29 (Summer 1975), pp. 569–70.

63. See Campbell, “Evolutionary Epistemology.”

64. See Stein, Janice Gross, “International Negotiation: A Multidisciplinary Perspective,” Negotiation Journal, 07 1988, pp. 221–31; and Larson, Deborah Welch, “The Psychology of Reciprocity in International Relations,” Negotiation Journal, 07 1988, pp. 281301.

65. See Holsti, Ole, “Crisis Decision Making,” in Tetlock, Philip E. et al. , eds., Behavior, Society, and Nuclear War, vol. 1 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1989), pp. 884; Lave, Jean, Cognition in Practice (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988); and Nisbett, R. and Ross, L., Human Inference (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1980). See also Goffman, Erving, Frame Analysis (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1974).

66. See Jervis, , Perception and Misperception in International Politics; and Jervis, Robert, “Realism, Game Theory, and Cooperation,” World Politics 40 (04 1988), pp. 317–49.

67. See Snyder, and Diesing, , Conflict Among Nations.

68. See Holsti, Ole, “‘The Operational Code' as an Approach to the Analysis of Belief Systems,” final report to the National Science Foundation, grant no. SOC75–15368, 12 1977, p. 2.

69. See Boulding, Kenneth, The Image (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1956); Boulding, Kenneth, Conflict and Defense (New York: Harper, 1962), chap. 14;George, Alexander L., “The Causal Nexus Between Cognitive Beliefs and Decision-Making Behavior: The ‘Operational Code’ Belief System,” in Falkowski, Lawrence S., ed., Psychological Models in International Politics (Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press, 1979), pp. 95124; and Axelrod, Robert, ed., Structure of Decision: The Cognitive Maps of Political Elites (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1976). For discussions about artificial intelligence modeling of thought patterns, see Mefford, Dwain, “Analogical Reasoning and the Definition of the Situation: Back to Snyder for Concepts and Forward to Artificial Intelligence for Method,” in Hermann, Charles F., Kegley, Charles W. Jr, and Rosenau, James N., eds., New Directions in the Study of Foreign Policy (Boston: Allen & Unwin, 1987); and Carbonell, Jaime, Subjective Understanding: Computer Models of Belief Systems (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1981).

70. See Haas, Ernst B., “Knowledge, Technology, Interdependence,” International Organization 29 (Summer 1975), pp. 858–59. See also Haas, Ernst B., “Why Collaborate? Issue-Linkage and International Regimes,” World Politics 32 (04 1980), pp. 357405; and Haas, Ernst B., Williams, Mary Pat, and Babai, Don, Scientists and World Order (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1977).

71. See, for example, Gillespie, B., Eva, D., and Johnston, R., “Carcinogenic Risk Assessment in the United States and Great Britain: The Case of Aldrin/Dieldrin,” Social Studies of Science 9 (08 1979), pp. 265301; and Hoberg, George Jr, “Risk, Science and Politics: Alachlor Regulation in Canada and the United States,” Canadian Journal of Political Science 23 (06 1990), pp. 257–77. For a broader discussion of additional factors influencing regulatory agencies' acceptance of consensual knowledge, see Jasanoff, Sheila, Risk Management and Political Culture (New York: Russell Sage, 1986).

72. See Rothstein, Robert L., “Consensual Knowledge and International Collaboration,” International Organization 38 (Autumn 1984), pp. 733–62.

73. See Heclo, Hugh, “Issue Networks and the Executive Establishment,” in King, Anthony, ed., The New American Political System (Washington, D.C.: American Enterprise Institute, 1978), pp. 87124; Kingdon, John W., Agendas, Alternatives, and Public Policies (Boston: Little, Brown, 1984); Gais, Thomas L., Peterson, Mark A., and Walker, Jack L., “Interest Groups, Iron Triangles, and Representative Institutions in American National Government,” British Journal of Political Science 14 (04 1984), pp. 161–85;Walker, Jack L., “The Diffusion of Knowledge, Policy Communities, and Agenda Setting: The Relationship of Knowledge and Power,” in Tropman, John E., Dluhy, Milan J., and Lind, Roger M., eds., New Strategic Perspectives on Social Policy (New York: Pergamon, 1981), pp. 7596; Sabatier, Paul A., “Knowledge, Policy-Oriented Learning, and Policy Change,” Knowledge Creation, Diffusion, Utilization 8 (06 1987), pp. 649–92; and Hansen, John Mark, “Creating a New Politics: The Evolution of Agricultural Policy Networks in Congress, 1919–1980,” Ph.D. diss., Yale University, New Haven, Conn., 1987.

74. See Sundquist, James L., “Research Brokerage: The Weak Link,” in Lynn, Lawrence E. Jr, ed., Knowledge and Policy: The Uncertain Connection, vol. 5 (Washington, D.C.: National Academy of Science, 1978), pp. 126–44.

75. See Suleiman, , Bureaucrats and Policy Making; and Grindle, Merilee S., ed., Politics and Policy Implementation in the Third World (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1980).

76. See Keohane, Robert O. and Nye, Joseph S., eds., Transnational Relations and World Politics (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1971); Keohane, Robert O. and Nye, Joseph S., “Transgovernmental Relations and International Organizations,” World Politics 27 (10 1974), pp. 3962; Hopkins, Raymond F., “Global Management Networks: The Internationalization of Domestic Bureaucracies,” International Social Science Journal 30 (06 1978), pp. 3146; Evan, William M., ed., Knowledge and Power in a Global Society (Beverly Hills, Calif.: Sage, 1981); and Willets, Peter, ed., Pressure Groups in the Global System (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1982). For more recent efforts in a similar vein, see Jönsson, Christer, “Integration Theory and International Organization,” International Studies Quarterly 30 (03 1986), pp. 3957; Jönsson, Christer and Bolin, Staffan, “IAEA's Role in the International Politics of Atomic Energy,” in Finkelstein, Lawrence S., ed., Politics in the United Nations System (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1988), pp. 303–23; and Cernea, Michael M., “Nongovernmental Organizations and Local Development,” World Bank discussion paper no. 40, Washington, D.C., 1988.

77. See Crane, Barbara B., “Policy Coordination by Major Western Powers in Bargaining with the Third World: Debt Relief and the Common Fund,” International Organization 38 (Summer 1984), p. 426.

78. See, for example, Jacobson, Harold K., “WHO: Medicine, Regionalism, and Managed Politics,” in Cox, Robert W. and Jacobson, Harold K., eds., The Anatomy of Influence (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1974), p. 214.

79. Crane, Diana, “Alternative Models of ISPAs,” p. 39.

80. See the following works by March, James G. and Olsen, Johan P.: “The New Institutionalism: Organizational Factors in Political Life,” American Political Science Review 78 (09 1984), pp. 734–49; and Rediscovering Institutions (New York: Macmillan, 1989). The actual definition of institutions in this literature appears remarkably fluid. Institutions may be anything from formal organizations to social forces (including capitalism) to culture.

81. March, and Olsen, , Rediscovering Institutions.

82. Blau, Peter, Exchange and Power in Social Life (New York: Wiley, 1967), chap. 7. See also March, James G., “Footnotes to Organizational Change,” Administrative Science Quarterly 26 (12 1981), pp. 563–77.

83. Wilson, James Q., “Innovation in Organization: Notes Toward a Theory,” in Thompson, James D., ed., Approaches to Organizational Design (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1966), pp. 197218.

84. See George, Alexander, “Case Study and Theory Development: The Method of Structured, Focused Comparison,” in Gordon, Paul, ed., Diplomacy: New Approaches in History, Theory, and Policy (New York: Free Press, 1979), pp. 4368; and George, Alexander and McKeown, Timothy J., “Case Studies and Theories of Organizational Decision Making,” in Advances in Information Processing in Organizations, vol. 2, 1985, pp. 2158.

85. See Axelrod, , Structure of Decision.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

International Organization
  • ISSN: 0020-8183
  • EISSN: 1531-5088
  • URL: /core/journals/international-organization
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 1481 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 7588 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 24th March 2018. This data will be updated every 24 hours.