Bureaucracies at War: The Institutional Origins of Miscalculation

Bureaucracies at War: The Institutional Origins of Miscalculation

Thursday, November 7, 2024
3:30 PM - 5:00 PM

William J. Perry Conference Room

About the Event: Why do states start conflicts they ultimately lose? Why do leaders possess inaccurate expectations of their prospects for victory? Tyler Jost’s book, Bureaucracies at War: The Institutional Origins of Miscalculation (Cambridge Studies in International Relations series; Cambridge University Press, 2024) examines how national security institutions shape the quality of information upon which leaders base their choice for conflict – which institutional designs provide the best counsel, why those institutions perform better, and why many leaders fail to adopt them. Jost argues that the same institutions that provide the best information also empower the bureaucracy to punish the leader. Thus, miscalculation on the road to war is often the tragic consequence of how leaders resolve the trade-off between good information and political security. Employing an original cross-national data set and detailed explorations of the origins and consequences of institutions inside China, India, Pakistan, and the United States, this book explores why bureaucracy helps to avoid disaster, how bureaucratic competition produces better information, and why institutional design is fundamentally political.

About the Speaker: Tyler Jost is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Brown University. He is currently on sabbatical leave as the David and Cindy Edelson Fellow in U.S. Foreign Policy and International Security at Dartmouth College. His research focuses on national security decision-making, bureaucratic politics, and Chinese foreign policy. His research has been published in International Organization, International Security, Journal of Conflict Resolution, and International Studies Quarterly. Dr. Jost’s first book, Bureaucracies at War (Cambridge University Press), examines how different types of bureaucratic institutions across the world lead to better and worse foreign policy decisions. He is currently working on a second book examining the domestic origins of international engagement. Dr. Jost completed his doctoral degree in the Department of Government at Harvard University and held postdoctoral fellowships at the Belfer Center International Security Program at the Kennedy School of Government, as well as in the China and the World Program at Columbia University.

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