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Organizational Routines and the Causes of War

Jack S. Levy
International Studies Quarterly
Vol. 30, No. 2 (Jun., 1986), pp. 193-222
Published by: Wiley on behalf of The International Studies Association
DOI: 10.2307/2600676
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2600676
Page Count: 30
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Organizational Routines and the Causes of War
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Abstract

This study identifies the theoretical linkages by which rigid organizational routines of the military may contribute to the outbreak of war, and examines the analytical problems involved in making such inferences. It is argued that military routines have an impact on the outbreak of war only in combination with other systemic, organizational, bureaucratic, and psychological variables. The failure to recognize the independent role of other variables in inducing rigid adherence to existing military plans, as well as the danger of spurious inferences, results in incomplete explanations and the attribution of excessive causal weight to organizational routines themselves. Systemic variables determining 'military necessity' are particularly important. The greater the extent to which military necessity influences both the development of contingency plans and their rigid implementation in a crisis, the less the causal weight that can be attributed to the nature of the plans themselves. The less rigid the plans really are in terms of military necessity, the greater their causal importance and that of other variables. Military routines and interests can also contribute to the outbreak of war through their role in the development of military doctrine and war plans. These theoretical linkages are illustrated by an analysis of the military mobilization and war plans for World War I.

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