Published on December 28, 2007
A complex systems critique to mainstream IR theory: A case study of foreign policy integration in Europe as a complex system: A complex systems critique to mainstream IR theory: A case study of foreign policy integration in Europe as a complex system Mehmet Y. Tezcan firstname.lastname@example.org Objectives of the presentation: Objectives of the presentation To introduce our IES research project on EU FP To show the relevance of this project to Complexity Theory (especially dissipative structures and evolutionary biology) To make a critique to systems thinking in mainstream IR theory To explain EU FP as a complex system To make a political economy critique to Complexity Theory An IES research project: An IES research project The Political Economy of the EU Foreign Policy: A retroductive analysis of the EU’s actorness in world politics Promoter: Prof.Gustaaf Geeraerts Researcher: Mehmet Y. Tezcan Since April 2005 What is it about?: What is it about? The project examines the impact of corporate integration on foreign policy integration in Europe since 1980s. Starting definition: In a generic sense, integration refers to process of blending of (all sorts of) components into a sufficiently unified or functioning whole so as to attain a set of common objectives in a changing environment. Some definitions of FP: Some definitions of FP FP is a type of public policy by a political organisation that holds authority and exerts power. Traditionally understood, it is a state that makes and implements FP. In the most general sense, FP denotes ‘the fundamental issue of how organised groups, at least in part strangers to each other, interrelate’. More specifically, FP refers to finding ways and means to preserve and promote vital interests of an organized group. Definition of FP integration: Definition of FP integration FP integration means emergence of a higher-level public authority than states that makes and implements foreign policy. FP integration in Europe refers to emergence of the EU as a foreign policy actor. Contemplating FP integration: Contemplating FP integration 3 foci of the relevant (FPA) literature: The process-oriented approach on the historical evolution of institutional framework The output-oriented approach on what the system produces The EU-as-an-actor approach on the effectiveness of policy output Complexity problem for FPA: Complexity problem for FPA FPA agrees that: that foreign policy system at the European level is complex, that better conceptualizations than the actual ones are needed in order to come to terms with this complex system. Two challenges: An ontological/conceptual challenge A methodological challenge Systems thinking in IR: Systems thinking in IR In two waves: (cf. Sullivan 2002:96) First wave (during Cold War years) Behavioralist school Post-behavioralist school The English school Second wave (post-Cold War) Social constructivism The ‘new generation’ English school Evolutionary and complexity approaches Behavioralist school: Behavioralist school Morton Kaplan (1957) System and Process in International Politics as the main text. ‘any set of specified variables may be considered a system. Napoleon, the Columbia River, and a dinosaur may be considered a system’ (Kaplan 1957:4). international system as just an analytical tool. And its deficiencies: And its deficiencies borrowing Newtonian assumptions from classical natural sciences. featured as being empiricist, nominalist, reductionist, mechanistic and functionalist. Deutsch, Karl W. et al. (1957) Political Community and the North Atlantic Area: International Organization in the Light of Historical Experience Haas, Ernst. (1964) Beyond the Nation-State: Functionalism and International Organization Gilpin, Robert. (1981) War and Change in World Politics Post-behavioralist school: Post-behavioralist school Kenneth Waltz (1979) Theory of International Politics as the leading text. very critical of inductivist and reductionist dogma in the behavioralist school (Waltz 1979:ch.1) And its deficiencies: And its deficiencies static, ahistorical and vulgar materialist conception of international system The English school: The English school Martin Wight (1977) Systems of states Hedley Bull (1977) The Anarchical Society: A Study of Order in World Politics Adam Watson (1992) The Evolution of International Society A historical and normative approach to international systems And its deficiencies: And its deficiencies Historian and international lawyer style Empirically strong but theoretically and methodologically weak strictly anti-behavioralist Hence rapidly otherized, furiously marginalized, and largely ignored by the mainstream (Kaplan 1966; Singer 1966) Hence not much elaborated Social constructivism: Social constructivism Alex Wendt (1999) Social Theory of International Relations John Ruggie (1998) Constructing the World Polity: Essays on International Institutionalization Emanuel Adler (2005) Communitarian International Relations: The epistemic foundations of International Relations. explored the cognitive dynamics of international systems underlined collective knowledge or intersubjective understandings as ‘what hang things together’ And its deficiencies: And its deficiencies the empiricist commitments Denying any truly emergent reality to the cognitive structure of their systems due to the latter’s being unobservable, this group –with a Giddensian move- locate social structures ‘in the minds of people’. the group’s works (have to) suffer from the same troubles as the behavioralist school faces. The ‘new generation’ ES : The ‘new generation’ ES Barry Buzan and Richard Little (2000) International Systems in World History: Remaking the Study of International Relations Barry Buzan (2004) From International to World Society? English School Theory and the Social Structure of Globalisation criticizes the mainstream IR its ahistoricism and presentism a fully historicized view of international systems fixes, to a certain extend, the sociological shortcomings of the classical ES And its deficiencies: And its deficiencies Still empirically strong, but theoretically and methodologically weak Still failing to benefit from conceptual innovations of Complexity Theory Complexity approaches: Complexity approaches James N. Rosenau (1990) Turbulence in World Politics Jack Snyder and Robert Jervis (1993) Coping with Complexity in the International System Robert Axelrod (1997) The Complexity of Cooperation Robert Jervis (1997) System Effects Lars-Erik Cederman (1997) Emergent Actors in World Politics William Thompson (ed.) (2001) Evolutionary Interpretations of World Politics Neil E. Harrison (ed.) (2006) Complexity in World Politics: Concepts and Methods of a New Paradigm Complexity approaches: Complexity approaches ‘early attempts’ to claim complex systems thinking for the study of macro-social phenomena in international relations ardently call for ‘another IR’ that will finally recognize international relations as being an emergent realm of non-linear patterns of social interactions Neo-positivist hegemony in IR: Neo-positivist hegemony in IR The problem is that the neo-positivistic hegemony reigns IR today. Mainstream (‘American’) IR theory still sticks to the now outdated Newtonian paradigm (King et al. 1994; Brady and Collier 2004) the principles of the Newtonian paradigm involve 1) a firm belief in order, certainty and progress, 2) reductionism, 3) causality as linear relationships between particles unbounded by time and space, 4) symmetry between explanation and prediction. Slide23: These go, of course, against two main ontological assumptions of Complexity Theory (Heylighen 2006): 1) interactionism (i.e., that ‘systems can only be really understood by analyzing the process through which they have been assembled’) 2) emergenism (i.e., that ‘systems are qualitatively different than (sum of) their components’). Slide24: So, for all research including ours, the challenge is here twofold: Not only to study international relations as truly a complex system without falling into the positivistic trap But also to adapt/reinterpret abstract concepts of complex systems to the concrete characteristics of international relations without falling to the ‘naturalistic’ trap EU FP as a complex system: EU FP as a complex system EU FP composed of distinct yet interrelated components (i.e., EU member states) These states interact, more often than not, in a non-linear way. These are fairly rich, dynamic, usually short-ranged, feedbacked, local interactions. Slide26: The system has some emergent properties, i.e., self-organisation and self-sustenance and actorness. It is more than the sum of individual FPs of states. Emergence refers to simultaneous functioning of FP systems at various levels Slide27: In (Western) Europe, i.e., boundary conditions of the system and in a given time span (1970-present), i.e., arrow of time for the system far-from-equilibrium process Located within an environment, open system, entropy production open-endedness and contingency in evolution Slide28: The system has always evolved through phase transitions: 1986 SEA 1993 Maastricht Treaty 1997 Amsterdam Treaty 2000 Nice Treaty 2004 Constitution for Europe Slide29: Complexification at work(Heylighen 1998) Structural complexification, i.e., more components 6-9-10-12-15-25-27 member states and many associate members Functional complexification, i.e., more linkages between components and more functions Secretariat, Political Committee, Early Warning Unit, Mr.CFSP, EU FPs towards CEE, MEDA etc. Problematising complexification: Problematising complexification Complexification as a central characteristic of complex system (Heylighen 1998) Complexification as the result of evolutionary mechanisms at work against perturbations and disturbances from the environment (Heylighen 1998) The challenge is how to understand these mechanisms and environment for social world in general and foreign policy integration in particular. What is not to do?: What is not to do? To solely focus on the mechanism(s), i.e., the functionalist/cognitivist fallacy Michael E. Smith (2004) Europe’s Foreign and Security Policy: The Institutionalisation of Cooperation argues for the relationship between institutionalization and further cooperation. Social constructivists (e.g., Christiansen et al. 1999; Tonra 2001) ‘culture as a self-fulfilling prophecy’. To define environment in vogue or piecemeal terms Christopher Hill and Michael Smith (2006) International Relations and the EU understand the environment in political terms: ‘the EU as international relations within greater international relations’ Capitalist social relations as environment: Capitalist social relations as environment A better definition of environment for all social systems is capitalist social relations. The political and the economic are different crystallised forms of these social relations. These two are also intractably interwoven in this greater system, i.e., symbiosis. Slide33: The project examines the impact of corporate integration on foreign policy integration in Europe since 1980s. Why corporate integration? Corporate integration signifies ‘big business’ and the ‘big business’ is the main feature of contemporary capitalism. Corporate integ. at two levels: Corporate integ. at two levels At the micro level it refers to emergence of greater economic units in size and power than the Marshallian firm, a more basic unit of a market economy. These greater economic units are called multinational corporations (MNCs). They come into existence through mergers & acquisitions or consolidation. They are multinationals because of their mode of production and realization of surplus value, not of ownership and control. That is to say, although usually based in and owned by shareholders from a ‘home’ country, they produce and sell abroad as well as at their ‘home’ market. Therefore, they have, of necessity, individual global interests and their own ‘private FPs’. Slide35: Complexity Theory has already started to study corporate integration at micro level as a variant of complex systems. Organisational theory in business administration (e.g.,Pfeffer & Salancik 1978) Evolutionary Economics (e.g., de la Mothe & Pacquet 1996) Literature on ‘monopoly capitalism’ (e.g., Baran & Sweezy 1967; Galbraith 1968) Slide36: At macro level corp. integ. means emergence of interdependent clusters of corporate actors. They develop through socialisation and transnational linkages. Socialisation means that corporate actors gather in specific transnational fora in order to exchange views and reach a common ground, if possible. e.g., Bilderberg Conference, the Trilateral Commission, World Economic Forum in Davos, ICC in Paris Transn. linkages means that a corporate actor may hold simultaneously positions in various MNCs and own block shares from different MNCs. The next step after socialisation through networking and transnational interlockings is (transnational) class formation. Why is this important?: Why is this important? Corp. integ. at macro level gives MNCs, economic actors per se, the power To get involved in a political process. To voice their priorities. To disseminate their ideology. And even, to dominate the debate. Main research question: Main research question to what extend corporate actors have collectively influenced foreign policy actors in terms of institutionalisation and common policy output? Due to two essential (and interrelated) aspects of the mechanism of integration in complex systems: organisation (i.e., arrangement of units into a whole) and function (i.e., goal-oriented action of the whole) Research method: Research method The focus will be on the feedback mechanisms before the ‘moments of integration’ through grand bargains. the project employs historical reconstruction and process-tracing. Four steps of feedbacking: Four steps of feedbacking The first step is discourse-creation. It must be shown that the MNCs have collectively an agenda on a specific issue. This can be done through identification of publications (be it official position papers of the ERT or newspaper/journal texts). The second step is communication. Since ‘environments’ are always enacted, the MNCs must make themselves listened. This means that the MNCs must reach the policy-makers through transmission mechanisms. The corporate actors usually prefer high-profile communication channels before the policy decisions are taken. Here the challenge is to demonstrate through published letters sent to European Councils and interviewing with the people involved that the MNCs make the policy makers listen. Slide41: The third step is persuasion. One can do this through the analytical comparison between the content of publications from the private and public actors, i.e., between the position papers by the corporate actors and the official documents by the EU. The final step is benefit for and comment by the corporate actors in Europe. One can show this by detailing increasing FDI investments or number of affiliates, subcontracting or corporate restructuring. Review publications might be also used. Four case studies: Four case studies The organisational evolution of the EU FP system between 1986 and 2006, The organisational evolution of the EU security agency between 1992 and 2006, The EU FP towards Central and Eastern Europe between 1988 and 2004, The EU FP towards Mediterranean between 1995-2006.