Approaches to Foreign Policy Analysis

Foreign Policy Analysis enables us to understand how individual countries make their policy decisions as well as their relationships and interactions with other countries. Therefore, it becomes essential to have identified effective tools or approaches to assist with the Foreign Policy Analysis as well as highlight the different dynamics that come into play. On the premise of this, there are five key approaches to Foreign Policy Analysis namely:

1 .The Rational Actor Model

2 .The Bureaucratic Politics Mode

3 .The Organizational Process Model

4 .The Inter-branch Politics Model and lastly

5 .The Political Process Model

In order to gain an in-depth understanding of the critical role played by foreign policy in International Relations, it is important to examine each model, their contributions to Foreign Policy Analysis as well as their particular strengths and weaknesses. This is discussed as follows:

1. The Rational Actor Model

This is regarded the most popular approach to Foreign Policy Analysis. This approach operates under the assumption that the main contributor in foreign policy formulation is a rational individual who is able to make informed decisions that have potential and perceived benefits to a country (Marijke, 2007). The rational actor model relies heavily on interactions between the state and the individual. Additionally, the approach assumes that necessary information is readily available. The rational actor model defines four critical steps in the decision-making process for policy formulation including; Problem identification, clarification of desired outcomes, evaluation of potential consequences of policy choices and finally the maximization of all beneficial outcomes. The rational actor theoretical approach major strength is that it is highly useful in understanding the intentions and objectives of a foreign policy action. However, it does not account for instances when complete data and information may not be available.

2.The Bureaucratic Politics Model

This model is premised on the argument that policy actions are undertaken by a number of independent and competing actors within a given country with each actor bringing immense value to the decision-making process. It is important to note that each actor endeavours to satisfy their own goals and therefore any consensus to be reached in dependent on successful negotiations between and among the different actors (Marijke, 2007). The bureaucratic politics approach is often put forward as a valid explanation as to why sometimes countries act irrationally. The downside of this approach is that it does not take into account aspects of highly concentrated power held by certain actors. In addition to that, the bureaucratic politics approach is difficult to apply to other styles and forms of government.

3. The Organizational Process Model

In contrast to the rational actor model and the bureaucratic politics model, the organizational process model perceives the government as a mixture of powerful entities working in unison rather than as separate and competing entities. In this model, the government relegates facets of policy formulation and decision-making processes to governmental departments and committees therein. One of the outcries or demerits of this approach to Foreign Policy Analysis is that it limits an individual’s ability to act and make decisions consequently leading to reduced or little to no insight as well as a lack of adequate alternate perspectives to decision making processes.  In addition to that, the organizational process model can potentially decrease the flexibility of an entity. However, deploying this approach to foreign policy analysis ensures that decision making processes are streamlined due to the establishment and deployment of a standard protocol for function. Lastly, the organizational process model is readily applicable to crisis events (Marijke, 2007).

4. The Inter-branch Politics Model and lastly

The inter-branch politics model is very similar to the organizational process model and the bureaucratic politics model in that it involves separate and well-defined entities. However, this approach does not focus on singular goals or outcomes, instead the approach seeks to evaluate actions as well as their outcomes on the basis of combined efforts (Marijke, 2007).  The cohesiveness of the different actors plays a major role in ensuring progress in an effort to achieve collectively defined goals. It is important to note that the bureaucratic politics models and the inter-branch politics model cannot operate in complete independence, instead they heavily interact with and influence each other.

5. The Political Process Model

In all the aforementioned approaches to Foreign Policy Analysis, there are a large number of participating actors involved. The political process model emphasizes on the bargaining power as well as the presence of various power players all seeking to achieve their respective and personal goals. The goals of the different actors are often either in conflict with or in consensus with those of other players. This approach focuses mainly on the individuals and their personal goals and rather than on organizations or groups as a whole (Breuning, 2007). However, this approach is very similar to the bureaucratic politics approach causing it to make but only a substantive contribution to Foreign Policy Analysis.

Emmanuel Addo

Emmanuel Addo is the founder of the Young Global Leaders Network, an international non-governmental organization registered in six (6) countries namely, Ghana, United Kingdom, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Democratic Republic of Congo, and South Sudan and has a membership strength of over 15,000 young black professionals, students, graduates, and aspiring leaders.

The organization also operates in 25 other African countries. Emmanuel also doubles as the chief convener and founder of the Young African Leaders Summit, one of the largest continental youth summits in Africa.  

Currently works at Kingston University as a Business Engagement Team Member in their Partnerships and Engagement Department. 

He characterizes energy, integrity, result-oriented, and ground-breaking service in each detail of strategic management, change management, stakeholder management, and leadership acquaintances.
Emmanuel owns a core background in Sociology and Psychology from the University of Ghana.

Leveraging his experience as a youth activist and a dynamic young man, Emmanuel founded the Young Global Leaders Network, a youth organization that comprises young diplomats, young politicians, and aspiring politicians, business/entrepreneurial business leaders with the aim of championing a mutual agenda for the African youth and promoting youth participation in governance as well as promoting entrepreneurial culture.
Emmanuel nurtures an environment of teamwork and has expertise in data collection and analysis as well as both quantitative and qualitative methods.

Emmanuel worked as an Associate Lecturer at the London College of Advanced Management where he delivered a wide range of business management courses that involved principles of marketing, leadership, operation management, and research methods. Emmanuel has always maintained high teaching and learning standards to ensure that his students’ stand out in academic achievements and successful progression. As a stout believer and passionate key player in volunteering; Emmanuel creates quality time to giving back gladly to his community what he has learned and to educate individuals with free consultancy on career development. He is a leader anyone would love to look up to and with great integrity, commitment, and passion to make the world a better place.
Emmanuel worked as Qualifications Manager at the Open University in the UK.

Emmanuel is also the founder of Kickstart Innovation Hub Ltd, the entrepreneurial hub of Young Global Leaders Network.