Leaders, Bureaucracy, and Miscalculation in International Crisis

Wednesday, October 26, 2022 at 12:00pm to 1:30pm

E40-496, limited to MIT Community only

SSP Wednesday Seminar with speaker Tyler Jost, Brown University

When does bureaucracy make states prone to miscalculate in international crisis? International relations scholarship often assumes that bureaucracy increases the propensity for miscalculation, but offers comparatively few insights into what makes bureaucracy in some states more prone to miscalculation than in others. In this presentation, Prof. Jost will develop a theory of crisis miscalculation that emphasizes variation in institutional relationships between political leaders and foreign policy bureaucracies. Two dimensions of these institutions -- the capacity for information search and inter-bureaucratic information sharing -- help explain why some states are more prone to miscalculate than others. To test this, Prof. Jost's research introduces a novel data set that measures these institutional differences across the globe from 1946 to 2015. Contrary to canonical theories that argue that bureaucratic advice undermines strategic judgment, the analysis finds that institutions that integrate bureaucrats into a leader's decision-making process tend to perform better in international crises than those that exclude them. The theory and findings improve our understanding of how bureaucracy shapes the crisis behavior of modern states.

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Center for International Studies
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