Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy


Political Science, International Politics

Date of Defense


Graduate Advisor

J. Martin Rochester


Robertson, David

Jalalzai, Farida

Thomas, Kenneth


Foreign policy decision-making is often an obscured process, particularly when it involves threats to national security or national interests. Despite the lack of transparency, though sometimes necessary, foreign policy decisions can have far-reaching consequences. Policymakers establish and affect relationships with other governments, and can commit state resources for cooperation or for conflict. The purpose of this study is to determine what types of decision units make foreign policy decisions and what factors influence the dynamics of the unit. I employ the decision units (DU) framework developed by Margaret Hermann to decisions made by the United States and Israel during the 1973Yom Kippur War until the signing of the Sinai II Agreement. I identify and classify the units, which constitute both a crisis and crisis transition period. In addition, this study tests the effects of shocks or feedback on decision unit dynamics. The results of the study reveal that more decisions were made more often by one individual during the crisis than during the crisis transition period. External shocks did not appear to have a significant effect on the type of decision unit, except for the initial shock of the war. Internal political shocks occurred in both the United States and Israel during the transition period, affecting regime change and thus a change in key actors involved in the decision-making process. Pertaining to the effects of feedback, negative feedback influenced decision unit dynamics in the U.S. during the crisis. For Israel, negative feedback as a result of a crisis decision affected the nature of the decision unit, but in the transition period. In other words, there was no change in decision unit dynamics until after the conclusion of hostilities. Positive feedback did not appear to influence the nature of the decision unit. Overall, the study demonstrates that as the crisis subsided and transitioned to a less stressful, non-crisis situation, single group decision-making became more prevalent. The study also shows that decision unit dynamics helped determine policy outcomes.

OCLC Number