Jayita Sarkar, Assistant Professor of International Relations at the Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies at Boston University, recently published a journal article based on her research in Foreign Policy Analysis entitled, “Substate Organizations as Foreign Policy Agents: New Evidence and Theory from India, Israel, and France.”
The article argues that certain bureaucracies or sub-state organizations that possess specialized expertise in highly-technical domains like nuclear, space and defense technologies often drive foreign policy decisions outside their original mandate received from the foreign policy executives. With specific reference to nuclear, space and defense cooperation between India and France during the Cold War and the early post-Cold War years, and the defense partnership between India and Israel since 1992, this article aims to underline the significance of sub-state organizations in foreign policymaking.
The abstract of the article, co-authored with Nicolas Blarel of Leiden University, is below, and the full text can be found here:
The extant scholarship in international relations does not completely account for the role of sub-state organizations (SSOs) in foreign policymaking of states. Yet, international cooperation, especially, in specialized areas like defense, space and nuclear technologies that are technologically complex frequently witness extensive involvement of SSOs. In other words, SSOs often act as foreign policy agents driving the international partnerships. Why does this happen, and what are its causal mechanisms? In this study, we conduct a plausibility probe on the role of SSOs through examining India’s partnerships with France and Israel in the specialized domains of nuclear, space and defense technologies, and find that the foreign policy executives (FPEs) within the governments frequently defer to relevant SSOs when specialized knowledge and expertise are required, thus conferring foreign policy agency to the SSOs. We also find that the SSOs select their international partners based on their goals of efficiency, common institutional designs and organizational cultures. Our conclusions lead us to draw scholarly attention to this largely ignored yet significant actor in foreign policy decision-making.
Jayita Sarkar, an historian by training, is Assistant Professor of International Relations at Boston University’s Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies. Her expertise is in the history of U.S. foreign policy, nuclear proliferation, the global Cold War, South Asia and Western Europe. Her research has appeared or is forthcoming in the Journal of Cold War Studies, Journal of Strategic Studies, Cold War History, International History Review, and elsewhere. Dr. Sarkar has held fellowships at MIT, Harvard, Columbia and Yale universities, and obtained a doctorate in International History from the Graduate Institute Geneva in Switzerland.