This article tests a number of hypotheses about foreign policy decision making within parliamentary democracies. First it explores the origins of debates among decision-makers. Are deliberations provoked by alternative organizational perspectives or by conflicting ideological orientations? Second, it asks how debates are resolved. On the one hand, it has been suggested that, because each minister has an equal vote, a compromise between decision-makers must be reached. On the other hand, it has been argued that the Prime Minister exerts considerable control and power in foreign policy matters in relation to other decision-makers. These questions were studied with the aid of data collected from a sample of 97 decision episodes between 1949 and 1982, where the Israeli government discussed how to respond to low-intensity aggression against Israeli citizens and soldiers. The results of this research demonstrate that internal debates are poorly associated with organizational or political diversity. Instead group size seems to be more important, although the relationship is not linear. In any case, the discussions usually concluded in a consensus around the Prime Minister's policy of choice, thus indicating that he or she is the paramount decision-maker.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sociology and Political Science