Eisenhower, Policy Entrepreneurs, and the Test Ban Debate 1954-58
43 Pages Posted: 1 Aug 2011 Last revised: 7 Aug 2011
Date Written: 2011
What accounts for the variation in the influence of scientists in the policy making process? Why is it that scientists sometimes appear to exercise significant autonomy in shaping policy agendas while at other times very little? Scientists most influence the policy process, this paper contends, when they can leverage their recognized expertise by co-opting institutionalized channels of advice. This is most likely to occur in issue areas of high complexity and ambiguity when key policy makers are dependent upon scientists for their counsel. Competing scientific communities, prevented from accessing key decision makers and unable to exert their influence on the policy process, wait until windows of opportunity open to undermine the credibility of the incumbent experts, gain access to the president, and refocus the policy agenda. This theory is developed and tested against two competing alternatives through a case study analysis of the nuclear test ban debate during the Eisenhower administration from 1954-58. The findings of this paper underscore the need to treat foreign policy decision making as a series of strategic interactions between multiple actors with a broader capacity to influence the policy making process than traditionally conceived.
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation