The ''Operational Code''

A Neglected Approach to the Study of Political Leaders and Decision-Making

by Alexander L. George


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A research approach to the study of political leaders' conception of strategy and tactics that emerge from a set of beliefs about the nature of history, politics, and political action. This study restructures and codifies an approach developed at RAND some 15 years ago by Nathan Leites for studying the "operational code" of Soviet leaders. The questions and issues around which the old Bolsheviks constructed a belief system about politics are stated in general terms to emphasize the fact that they constitute fundamental issues about which all political leaders must formulate a set of beliefs or premises. The questions fall into two categories: (1) philosophical questions about the essential nature of the political universe; and (2) policy issues having to do with the relationship between means and goals.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation research memorandum series. The Research Memorandum was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1948 to 1973 that represented working papers meant to report current results of RAND research to appropriate audiences.

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