Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)



First Advisor

Donald F. Duns

First Committee Member

A. L. [?]

Second Committee Member

B. Jan Timmons


This study of political decision-making stressing the process of decision-making in a group setting is, in part, a reaction against traditional approaches of political analysis.

The study of international relations is overburdened with historical studies of the interaction between states. The classic approach to the study of a given decision by one government affecting another might be called the “rational actor model”. This model treats the state as the entity reaching the decision. The decision itself is seen as behavior that reflects a rational purpose or intent. The central concepts of the model center around the calculated weighing of goals, alternatives, consequences, and choices. The “rational actor model” is the dominant method of current political analysis.

I will implicitly contend in this paper that the concept of foreign policy as a rational process of gathering information, setting alternatives, and making decisions is not an adequate tool of understanding. In fact, the “rational actor model” does not make sense out of much political phenomenon. I will directly contend in this paper that a process model of political decision-making provides an adequate and helpful tool for the understanding of political decisions.



Included in

Communication Commons



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