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Reconceptualising strategic culture as a focal point: the impact of strategic culture on a nation’s grand strategy

Kaushal, Sidharth (2018) Reconceptualising strategic culture as a focal point: the impact of strategic culture on a nation’s grand strategy. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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Identification Number: 10.21953/lse.r5s5zvws2i7x


This thesis proposes to remedy some of the theoretical lacunae surrounding the topic of strategic culture by reconceptualising it in a way that is compatible with existing expected utility models of executive choice. Current theorising regarding strategic culture has been paralysed by an ongoing debate between the first and third generations of strategic culture theorists and by the persistent inability of scholars to provide a predictive framework based on the concept - meaning that it is unable to operate as anything other than a residual variable. The hypothesis of this thesis is that conceptualising strategic culture using Thomas Schelling’s concept of a focal point permits us to sidestep some of the theoretical debates that have divided rationalists and theorists of strategic culture by allowing culture to be grafted on to a rational actor model of executive choice in a way that is progressive rather than degenerative. In order to test this theory, the thesis develops and subsequently tests the idea of a liberal strategic culture, utilising both the congruence method and within case process tracing to demonstrate the external validity of the theory being developed. The cases chosen span American administrations from the Cold War to the contemporary era and demonstrate the utility of a re conceptualised model of strategic culture across a range of geopolitical and domestic contexts.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2018 Sidharth Kaushal
Library of Congress subject classification: J Political Science > JZ International relations
Sets: Departments > International Relations
Supervisor: Trubowitz, Peter

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