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United States--Foreign relations; International relations--Decision making


This study outlines a frame of reference which might be helpful to political scientists in the analysis of foreign policy decision-making. It is part of a larger effort which seeks to learn more about state action in general and American foreign policy decision-making in particular.

The approach which is utilized is one devised by Richard C. Snyder. It has been modified by the author lo suit the purposes and objectives of the present study. Basically, the approach is a conceptual scheme which postulates that state action results from the way identifiable, official decision-makers define the situation of action in order to arrive at a decision. The scheme focuses inquiry on these decision-makers in an attempt to determine why a particular decision was made rather than some other. Basic to the theory is the premise that decision-making behavior takes place in a complex organizational' setting which can be accounted for by the interrelation of three clusters of variables: sphere of competence, motivation, and information-communications. The basic assumption is that all factors which influence the results of a decision can be accounted for by these variables. Ultimately, the theory holds that, if a sufficient number of factual propositions on the behaviors and activities implied by these variables can be established, the interrelationship of these three sets of propositions becomes the empirical foundation for the explanation of a decision.

The present study, utilizing this scheme, focuses on three contemporary U.S. Presidents - Eisenhower, Kennedy and Johnson - in an effort to draw conclusions from their foreign policy decision-making methods. A number of preliminary findings are presented to illustrate the type of information which can be derived from an application of the decision-making approach.

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