Model I: Rational Actor Model
Rational Actor Model (RAM) is one of the first of Allisons frameworks of foreign
policy analysis, introduced and elaborated in Essence of Decision with the real
reference to Cuban Missile Crisis during 1962. When Essence of Decision was first
published in 1971, RAM became the trademark of Allison. The attempt to explain
international events by recounting the aims and calculations of nations or
governments is the trademark of the Rational Actor Model.
Rational Actor Model oscillates between decision and choice where decision
presupposes a decider and a choice among alternatives with reference to some
Human beings act in rationality with certain policy concepts and as to Allison,
policy means realisation in a number of particular instances of some agents
objectives. These concepts identify phenomena as actions performed by
purposeful agents. This identification involves a simple extension to
governments of the pervasive everyday assumption that what human beings do
is at least intendedly rational.
Not only in foreign policy analysis, Allisons this model has also been in use and
formulated in other fields as Allison himself puts in: a rigorous model of this concept
of rational action has been formulated in economics, decision and game theory.
Core concepts of the model: Goals & objectives; Alternatives; Consequences;
Goals and objectives refer to the interest and values of the agent are
translated into a payoff or utility or preference function, which represents the
desirability or utility of alternative sets of consequences. Ranks all possible
sets of consequences in terms of her or his values and objectives - number of
Alternatives are explained the rational agent must choose among a set
of alternatives displayed before her or him in a particular situation. It further
takes its alternative choice to the output of decision. However, there could be
several sets of implied decisions a decision tree may give.
Consequences which further takes rational actors to consider that to each
alternative is attached a set of consequences or outcomes of choice that will
ensue if that particular alternative is chosen
Since this model is a sort of game of selecting all possible choices, Choice is
the fourth or the final concept which is neither easy to make nor a
straightforward. Choice in this model is explained explicitly. To put Allisons
version in terms of choice-rationality, rational choice consists simply of
selecting that alternative whose consequences rank highest in the decision
makers payoff function; value maximizing choice within special Constraints
Rationality in RAM has high value and it refers to consistent behaviour of an
actor in the game. In RAM, the assumption of rationality also provides
As explained earlier, in most cases, states actions can be explained or
predicted in terms of the objective situations it faces and passes through,
combined with aforementioned four variable concepts. The bitter truth is that
such rational actors may come across vivid decision problem. It is even further
clarified a major findings of game theorists analysts of complex choices is
that they are unpredictable.
Explanation of RAM, Allison also introduced a paradigm where he formulated
four components, first of which is basic unit of analysis. Which seeks to
explain governmental actions as choice: happenings in foreign affairs are
conceived as actions chosen by the nation or a national government and that
governments select the action that will maximize strategic goals and
Organizing concepts split into three factors:
- unified national actor in which the nation or government, conceived as a
rational, unitary decision maker, is the agent;
- the problem in which action is chosen in response to the strategic situation
the actor faces- threats and opportunities arising in the international market
place move the nation to act; and action as rational choice which again
includes four core concepts of the model- objectives, options, consequences
- Third component of the paradigm refers to dominant interference pattern
where nations or representatives performed action must have been selected
as the value maximizing means for achieving the actors objectives.
It spirals further with next component the general propositions: increased and
decreased in the perceived cost emphasizing the importance of being serious about
the logic of explanation. Final components Allison offers is Evidence which tells us
about the details of behaviour, statements of government officials, and government
papers are then marshalled in such a way that a coherent picture of the value-
maximizing choice (from the view of the agent) emerges. The analyst himself puts in
the place of the nation or government.
Allison has provided us with this model a glimpse of illustrations that are
widely used in thinking about government behaviour and international
relations. Very simple form and task of the RAM is to link purpose and
action. As Allison himself declares: If I know an actors objective, I have a
major clue to his likely action. By observing behaviour and considering what
the actors objective might be, when I identify an objective that is advanced
effectively by the action, I have a strong hypothesis about why he did
whatever he did. In this hyper-simple form, the danger of tautology is evident.
Recall childrens explanations of behaviour: he did it because he wanted to.
If the only evidence of what he did, the two statements are empirically
equivalent. Objectives, calculations, choices, threats, opportunities are the
key words, weighing all pros and cons and taking up value-maximizing optionregard the major formula in RAM Allison employs.
This is how United States did in Cuban Missile Crisis choosing Blockade,
Ultimatum, Air Strike and Quarantine; among others: weighing all pros and
cons and choosing the options that served the USs value-maximizing choice.
Allison at the end of the model summarizes: the full RAM includes not only
objectives but also calculations about situation in which the actor finds
himself. This context presents threats and opportunities that the agent
packages as option with pros and cons. The actor chooses the alternative that
best advances his interests. Thus in explaining what an agent did or, in making
bets about what he is likely to do, an analyst must consider not only the actors
objectives but also the options he identifies, the costs and benefits he estimates
to follow from each option, and his readiness and reluctance to take risks.
Model II: Organisational Behaviour Model
Organizational behaviour model is Allisons second of three models in Essence
employed to explain the October 1962 confrontation between the United States and
Soviet Union. This model explains extensively how organisations behave and make
decision and how these decisions are implemented. In accord with this model, foreign
policy is the output of organisations behaviour. Organisations provide us the things
which we do not unless. Model stresses that the less it matters who you are in any
organization, the better are the organizations decisions and recommends letting the
organizations perform reliably. Organizations make an individual replaceable as much
as possible using it