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Cornell University Cornell Brooks Public Policy

Leaders, Bureaucracy, and Miscalculation in International Crisis

Professor Tyler Jost develops a theory of crisis miscalculation that emphasizes variation in institutional relationships between political leaders and foreign policy bureaucracies. He argues that two dimensions of these institutions – capacity for information search and oversight structure – help explain why some states are more prone to miscalculate than others.

To test his argument, he introduces a novel data set that measures these institutional differences across the globe from 1946 to 2015. Contrary to canonical theories that argue that bureaucratic advice undermines strategic judgment, the analysis finds that institutions that integrate bureaucrats into a leader's decision-making process tend to perform better in interstate crises than those that exclude them. The theory and findings improve our understanding of how bureaucracy shapes the crisis behavior of modern states.

About the speaker

Professor Tyler Jost is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Brown University, and an Assistant Professor of China Studies at the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs. His research focuses on national security decision-making, bureaucratic politics, and Chinese foreign policy.


Paul Lushenko is a U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel and a Ph.D. student in International Relations at Cornell University


Presented by the Reppy Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies. Co-sponsored by the Department of Government.

Start Date: September 29, 2022
Start Time: 11:25 am
Location: Uris Hall