Poster Paper: Connecting Crisis Events and Policy Change: Are Policy Actor Belief Systems the Missing Link?

Thursday, November 8, 2012
Liberty A & B (Sheraton Baltimore City Center Hotel)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Jonathan Pierce, University of Colorado Denver

Title: Connecting Crisis Events and Policy Change: Are Policy Actor Belief Systems the Missing Link?

Abstract: Policy process theories posit that significant crisis serve as catalysts to policy change (Baumgartner and Jones, 1993; Sabatier and Jenkins-Smith, 1993). While crisis are seen to create opportunities for policy change, the intermediate components connecting the two is a shortcoming of most theories (Weible and Nohrstedt, 2010).  This research expands our understanding of policy theory by connecting macro-level changes to coalition level belief systems.  Specifically, it examines whether the human made crises of the Holocaust and the resulting 1,700,000 Jewish refugees in Europe had an effect on the belief systems of policy actors in relation to the question of Palestine. The horrors of the Holocaust once revealed to the world and the refugee crisis in Europe in part led to the recognition of the Jewish State of Israel in Palestine by the UN General Assembly in November 1947 (Schechtman, 1949; Cohen, 1990; Radosh and Radosh, 2009). In order to understand how these events effected this policy change it is hypothesized that a crisis changed advocacy coalition belief systems prompting them to seek a change in public policy. The Foreign Relations of the United States, the official archives of the U.S. Department of State are used to identify 388 private and public statements made by various policy actors in relation to U.S. foreign policy and the question of Palestine from 1945-1947. The belief systems of individuals representing various organizations including the White House, U.S. Department of State, British Government, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Jewish Agency, the Arab League among others was coded along 19 expressed beliefs based upon five categories of policy core beliefs (Sabatier, 1999). Manhattan distances and Tabu Search cluster analysis were used to identify coalition membership for each organizational statement. Then a fixed effects model was applied to measure changes among these beliefs over time. It was found that the beliefs of none of the policy core beliefs significantly changed among the advocacy coalitions after these crises. Indicating that major crises may not change the belief systems of advocacy coalitions and that such changes are not necessary to bring about a policy change.