Decision by Design: National Security Institutions and Interstate Crisis
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Jost, Tyler Carl
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CitationJost, Tyler Carl. 2018. Decision by Design: National Security Institutions and Interstate Crisis. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.
AbstractDo domestic bureaucracies affect interstate conflict behavior? One school of thought argues that military, diplomatic, and intelligence actors possess unique preferences, leading to inefficient group decision-making that increases the propensity for miscalculation, risk acceptant bargaining, and interstate violence. Another school of thought argues that chief executives possess a set of management tools that attenuate bureaucratic preference divergence and ensure efficient group decision-making. Despite the availability of these tools, however, political science observes wide variation in the performance of national security decision-making groups. This yields a puzzle: why do chief executives sometimes choose management strategies that lead to inefficient group decision-making?
This dissertation makes three contributions to address this puzzle. First, applying concepts from economics, social psychology, and comparative politics, this dissertation introduces a new framework for thinking about the relationship between bureaucracy and international relations: national security institutions, which are defined as the rules and procedures that regulate relationships between chief executives and their military, diplomatic, and intelligence advisers. The first half of the dissertation argues that states can design national security institutions featuring strong decision-making and coordination bodies, such as the U.S. National Security Council, that improve vertical and horizontal information flow between actors. The central argument is that these informational efficiency gains within states improve signaling between states, thereby decreasing the propensity for interstate crisis. Second, this dissertation tests the argument through statistical analyses that introduce and employ an original cross-national time series dataset on national security institutions across the world from 1946 to 2012. These data include 857 unique decision-making and coordination bodies, as well as 5,339 chief executives, defense ministers, foreign ministers, and senior intelligence advisers. Critically, they describe all known instances of national security councils across the world since World War II. The findings demonstrate a strong, negative relationship between the strength of national security institutions and propensity for interstate crisis. Subsequent qualitative analysis illustrates the proposed mechanisms of the theory, leveraging a wealth of new archival and interview evidence from China, Taiwan, India, Pakistan, Russia, and the United States. Third, the second half of the dissertation explores the incentives that encourage and constrain state leaders from reforming their national security institutions. Heterogeneity in the political environment helps to explain why some state leaders rationally resist efficiency-improving reforms.
The dissertation has theoretical implications for the domestic origins of international conflict, as well as how institutions aggregate actor preferences and enhance group performance. In addition, through its case selection, the dissertation makes an important contribution to the study of Chinese foreign policy, offering the first look inside critical government bodies that currently remain a black box to academic and non-academic worlds alike. In so doing, the analysis connects the presently disparate sub-fields on China's foreign policy bureaucracy and its international behavior.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:41121255
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