The Study of Soviet Foreign Policy

A Review of Decision-Theory-Related Approaches

by Arnold L. Horelick, A. Ross Johnson, J. D. Steinbruner

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Scholarly literature on decisionmaking and Soviet foreign policy is reviewed for utility to practicing foreign affairs analysts. The cybernetic paradigm can serve as an alternative to the established analytic paradigm in generating multiple perspectives on foreign policy decisionmaking. Knowledge of organizational and bureaucratic context and theories involving cognitive operations and motivational forces permit generation of additional perspectives. New directions in Sovietology have been little affected by decision theory. Expanded knowledge about the context of Soviet foreign policy decisionmaking in forms susceptible to disciplined inquiry will permit development of middle-range decision theories specific to the Soviet context. Future research should explore Soviet "interest groups," Soviet organizational behavior on its own terms, "operational code" and elite studies of top Soviet decisionmakers, a set of case studies of Soviet foreign policy decisions as a necessary base for generalization, and Soviet media as a vehicle of intra-elite political communication.

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