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Issue Area and Foreign Policy Analysis

William C. Potter
International Organization
Vol. 34, No. 3 (Summer, 1980), pp. 405-427
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2706496
Page Count: 23
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Issue Area and Foreign Policy Analysis
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Abstract

The concept of issue area has played a major role in the development of public policy theory. Considerable difficulties, however, have been experienced by those scholars who have sought to apply the concept in the construction of foreign policy frameworks or in the testing of foreign policy hypotheses. Principal among these difficulties has been the generation of issue area hypotheses which are both theoretically meaningful and subject to empirical testing. The foreign policy literature that attaches major importance to issue area is reviewed and an assessment is made of the merits of alternative treatments of the concept in terms of their contribution to the development of a theory of comparative foreign policy. The conditions under which different issue area approaches can be used most profitably in comparative foreign policy research are then specified.

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