The logic of social interactions in foreign policy: The 1994--1996 United States-Chinese negotiations on intellectual property rights

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


International Studies

First Committee Member

Ambler Moss, Committee Chair


The primary objective of the dissertation is to demonstrate the viability of sociocybernetics, the quantitative study of social systems, in analyzing dynamic social interactions in foreign policy and deriving policy recommendations. The idea of sociocybernetics is to represent foreign policy actors as machines and describe them mathematically. It thus becomes possible to simulate their interactions with the help of a computer. Given an accurate game description, sociocybernetics unravels the logic of social interactions in foreign policy. This special feature makes sociocybernetics attractive to both the theoretical researcher and policy practitioner.One of the goals of foreign policy analysis is to explain outcomes and predict developments in the international world. If we truly want to understand the dynamics of foreign policy and explain the causes of certain outcomes we have to analyze the nature of social interactions in foreign policy. The challenge is to develop appropriate methodologies that model these complex social interaction patterns. Putnam's (1988) description of the interconnectedness of domestic and international politics as a two-level game is one of the most widely used analytical approaches. For obvious reasons, applications of the two-level game approach are often embedded in a rational choice framework. Rational choice helps clarify basic configurations, relationships, and social interactions. It is primarily interested in identifying optimal strategies to achieve well-defined goals. Unfortunately, it does not sufficiently explain the dynamics of social interactions. Sociocybernetics overcomes some of the inherent limitations of rational choice and focuses on the analysis of the interactions of social systems.Sociocybernetics was first applied to the analysis of individual, social interactions. In recent years it has been successfully utilized in the study of international relations. However, it has not been applied to model the interconnectedness of the social interactions on and between the international and domestic levels of foreign policy. This thesis fills this gap. In particular, it develops a discrete sociocybernetic model of the 1994-1996 US-Chinese negotiations on intellectual property rights. The model investigates the domestic as well as international dynamics among the main government and non-governmental actors. It thus illustrates the value of sociocybernetics in foreign policy analysis.


Sociology, Theory and Methods; Economics, Commerce-Business; Political Science, International Law and Relations

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