Skip to main content Accessibility help

Agendas, Alternatives, and Public Policy: Lessons from the U.S. Foreign Policy Arena*

  • Robert F. Durant (a1) and Paul F. Diehl (a2)


This essay extends John Kingdon's work on predecision policy processes in US domestic policy to the foreign policy domain. While Kingdon's insights have significantly improved our understanding of predecision processes, further development is necessary for extension across both domestic and foreign policy domains. Kingdon's incremental evolutionary metaphor for alternative specification has to be revamped to include both gradualist and nonincremental policy types. Scholars must also make more explicit, elaborate, and thorough use of Cohen, March and Olsen's ‘garbage can’ model of decision making. To these ends, we offer a typology of policy alternatives that incorporates alternative metaphors premised on recent developments in evolutionary theory. The essay concludes by suggesting a research agenda amenable to pursuit in both national and cross-national contexts.



Hide All
Allison, Graham T. 1971. Essence of Decision. Boston: Little, Brown.
Axelrod, Robert. 1984. The Evolution of Cooperation. New York: Basic Books.
Bauer, Raymond A., de Sola Pool, Ithiel, and Dexter, Lewis Anthony. 1972. American Business and Public Policy. Chicago: Aldine, Atherton.
Bobrow, David, and John, Dryzek. 1987. Policy Analysis by Design. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press.
Chittick, William O., 1988. ‘The Politicization of Security Policy‘, Journal of Politics 50: 180191.
Cobb, Roger W., and Elder, Charles D.. 1972. Participation in American Politics: The Dynamics of Agenda Building. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.
Cohen, Michael D., March, James G., and Olsen, Johan P.. 1972. ‘A Garbage Can Model of Organizational Choice’. Administrative Science Quarterly 17: 125.
Dawkins, Richard. 1976. The Selfish Gene. New York: Oxford University Press.
Dery, David. 1984. Problem Definition in Policy Analysis, Lawrence, Kan.: University Press of Kansas.
Deutsch, Karl W. 1963. The Nerves of Government. New York: Free Press.
Diehl, Paul F., 1989. ‘Ghosts of Arms Control Past: SALT II and the Reagan Administration 1981–1984’, Political Science Quarterly. (forthcoming).
Downs, Anthony. 1972. ‘Up and Down with Ecology –the Issue–Attention Cycle’. The Public Interest, Summer: 3941.
Dror, Yehezkel, 1984. ‘Policy Gambling: A Preliminary Exploration’. Policy Studies Journal 12: 913.
Eldredge, Niles, and Gould, Stephen Jay. 1972. ‘Punctuated Equilibria: An Alternative to Phyletic Gradualism’. In Models in Paleobiology, Schopf, T. J. M.. San Francisco: Freeman, Cooper and Co.
Eldredge, Niles. 1982. The Monkey Business: A Scientist Looks at Creationism. New York: Washington Square Press (Pocket).
Eldredge, Niles. 1985. Unfinished Synthesis. New York: Oxford University Press.
Eyestone, Robert. 1978. From Social Issues to Public Policy. New York: Wiley.
Fleisher, Richard, and Bond, Jon R.. 1988. ‘Are There Two Presidencies?: Only for the Republicans’, Journal of Politics 50: 747767.
Gould, Stephen Jay. 1980. The Panda's Thumb. New York: W. W. Norton and Company.
Gould, Stephen Jay. 1983. Hen's Teeth and Horse's Toes. New York: W. W. Norton and Company.
Heclo, Hugh. 1978. ‘Issue Networks and the Executive Establishment’. In The New American Political System, ed. Anthony, King. Washington, D.C.: American Enterprise Institute.
Holsti, Ole R., and Rosenau, James N.. 1984. American Leadership in World Affairs: Vietnam and the Breakdown of Consensus. Boston: Allen and Unwin.
Hood, Christopher. 1986. The Tools of Government. Chatham, N. J.: Chatham House.
Kingdon, John W. 1973. Congressman's Voting Decisions. New York: Harper & Row.
Kingdon, John W. 1984. Agendas, Alternatives, and Public Policies. Boston: Little, Brown and Company.
Lewis, E. B. 1978. ‘A Gene Controlling Segmentation in Drosophilia’. Nature 275: 565–70.
Light, Paul C. 1982. The President's Agenda: Domestic Policy Choice from Kennedy to Carter. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins.
Lindblom, Charles E. 1959. ‘The Science of “Muddling Through”’. Public Administration Review 19: 7988.
Lowi, Theodore. 1964. ‘American Business, Public Policy, Case Studies, and Political Theory’. World Politics, 6: 675715.
Mansbach, Richard W., and Vasquez, John A.. 1981. In Search of Theory: A New Paradigm for Global Politics. New York: Columbia University Press.
March, James and Simon, Herbert. 1958. Organizations. New York: John Wiley and Sons.
Milbrath, Lester W. 1967. ‘Interest Groups and Foreign Policy’. In Domestic Sources of Foreign Policy, ed. Rosenau, James N.. New York: The Free Press.
Nathan, Richard. 1983. The Administrative Presidency. New York: John Wiley and Sons.
Ouchi, William G. 1980. ‘Markets, Bureaucracies, and Clans’, Administrative Science Quarterly 25: 129141.
Guy, Peters B. and Hogwood, Brian. 1985. ‘In Search of the Issue-Attention CycleJournal of Politics 47: 238253.
Polsby, Nelson W. 1984. Political Innovation in America: The Politics of Policy Initiation. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press.
Ripley, Randall and Franklin, Grace. 1986. Policy Implementation and Bureaucracy. Chicago: Dorsey Press.
Rose, Richard. 1988. The Postmodern President. Chatham, N.J.: Chatham House.
Rose, Richard and Suleiman, Ezra N.. eds. 1980. Presidents and Prime Ministers. Washington, D.C.: American Enterprise Institute.
Rourke, Francis and Schulman, Paul. 1989. ‘Adhocracy in Policy Development’. The Social Science Journal, 26: 131142.
Schattschneider, Elmer Eric. 1960. The Semisovereign People. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.
Schulman, Paul R. 1976. ‘The Reflexive Organization: On Decision, Boundaries, and the Policy Process’, Journal of Politics, 38: 10141023.
Schulman, Paul R. 1988. The Politics of ‘Ideational Policy’. Journal of Politics 50: 263291.
Simon, Herbert. 1976. Administrative Behavior. 3rd edition. New York: Free Press.
Simpson, G. G. 1944. Tempo and Mode in Evolution. New York: Columbia University Press.
Smith, Hedrick. 1988. The Power Game: How Washington Works. New York: Ballantine Books.
Thompson, James. 1980. Rolling Thunder: Understanding Policy and Program Failure. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina.
Walker, Jack L. 1977. ‘Setting the Agenda in the U.S. Senate: A Theory of Problem Selection’, British Journal of Political Science 7: 423445.
Wildaysky, Aaron, 1966. ‘The Two Presidencies’. Trans-Action. 4: 714.

Agendas, Alternatives, and Public Policy: Lessons from the U.S. Foreign Policy Arena*

  • Robert F. Durant (a1) and Paul F. Diehl (a2)


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed