Note 7 for POLS 150 at KU
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Date Created: 02/06/15
Political Science 972 International Conflict Discussion Questions for Week 7 Organizational and Cognitive Processes 1 What is the linkage between human con ict on the individual level as expressed in biological and psychological theories or the group level as expressed in anthropological theories and the highly organized premeditated political activitiy of war Same question for lethal violence as distinct from con ict at those subpolitical levels To what extent is war a cooperative rather than a con ictual activity 2 Continuing with the above train of thought is the question quotIs war inevitable is war intrinsic to human naturequot even worth debating or is it one of those things where people simply make assumptions because there is no objective evidence that can be applied to it Consider the various theories discussed in Chapter 2 of Cashman in this regard is this evidence really relevant to the issue 3 Based on the subpolitical evidence biological anthropological psychological at what levels of social aggregation individual family small group community state nation cultural area etc might one expect to be able to control through socialpolitical structures lethal violence between humans What are historical examples of violence that were once common but are now more or less under control Could such controls be extended to the level of war at some or all levels why or why not 4 The concept of quotmisperceptionquot of a political situation implies that there is an accurate version of events that could be perceived in an ideal environment a socalled quotgod39s eye viewquot To what extent is it possible to obtain a perception of events that is different and in some sense more accurate that than of the decisionmakers How does the answer to this question differ depending on whether we are dealing with historical or contemporary events 5 Consider some of the decisions that the United States has made to use military force in recent years as well as the decisions not to use forceifor example the long delay in becoming involved in the former Yugoslavia or the decision not to intervene at all in Rwanda and assess the role of quotimagequot in making those decisions Base this assessment on your knowledge of the case as presented in the popular media which is often a good place to look for image plus any other information you may have 6 What is the linkage between the psychological characteristics of individual decisionmaking questions above and group decisionmaking questions below To what extent do the group decisionmaking process reduce the effects of psychological problems quotproblemsH in the sense that the decisionmakers later wish that they had made a different decision and to what extent do they magnify those problems 7 Consider the issue of the in uence of individual leaders ito what extent do leaders determine the outcome of a collective decision versus the collective choosing or retaining leaders who are making the decisions they want anyway This obviously varies dramatically depending on the political structures of various statesisaddam Hussein didn t have to worry about elections George Bush doesn t worry abut military coupsiso deal with this both with respect to broad categories of state systems eg democracy vs autocracy but also see if you can generalize it Spring 2007 Page 1 Schrodt 8 Allison s models were originally developed with reference to United States decisionmaking specifically the Cuban Missile Crisis To what extent are these models valid for other states particularly nonmaj or powers For other times In considering this question use whatever information you may know about decisionmaking in other countries e g from POLS 150 and the nonUS examples provided in Cashman but also consider what aspects of the United States in the Cold War era are likely to make it unusual 9 The groupthink model is usually presented as a type of decisionmaking pathologyi something to be avoided To what extent is it functionaliin other words what are the positive contributions of the various components of groupthink to a decisionmaking situation particularly during a crisis Same question for the incremental decisionmaking model and Allison s governmental politics model 10 The standard definition of a crisis is a period where there is a high level of threat and there are time constraints An alternative definitioniwhich may or may not be appropriateiis that a crisis occurs any time a problem occurs that cannot be solved incrementally or through standard operating procedures Are these two definitions getting at the same thing or are they different Are there examples of quotcrisesquot that are solved with standard operating procedures 11 The quotorganizational processquot Model II and quotbureaucratic politicsquot Model III models in Allison s framework have been criticized by as being insufficiently distinct or alternatively that virtually all decisions made within an organization contain significant aspects of both models Agree or disagree Cashman notes that Allison has tended to combine the two though many people including Cashman and your instructor tend to keep the two models separate What sort of information would you need to differentiate between the two models 12 To what extent is the importance of the bureaucratic politics model overestimated by the tendency of decisionmakers particularly in their autobiographies and war stories to over estimate their own importance In other words almost no one is going to write In those critical moments when our nation39s fate hung in balance I was just a mindless cog in a bureaucratic machine a mushroom who was kept in the dark and fed the residule product of the bovine digestive system Allisoniwho has been Dean of the Kennedy School of Government at Harvardiin turn may have been in uenced by his extensive contacts with highlevel decision makers rather than the Dilbertlevel drones who are providing information and implementing the policies What sort of evidence could one use to get around this problem 13 To what extent is it possible for a complex organization to get around the problems diagnosed by Allison and Janis when faced with a decision requiring a quick reaction When faced with a decision that can be made slowly Are there examples where organizations have clearly quotlearned from experiencequot and modified their decisionmaking process not just the standard operating procedures to avoid specific problems identified in the models Spring 2007 Page 2 Schrodt
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