Knowledge, Power, and International Policy Coordination

Peter M. Haas has published on international relations theory, constructivism, international environmental politics, global governance, and the interplay of science and international institutions at the international level.


“An epistemic community is a network of professionals with recognized expertise and competence in a particular domain and an authoritative claim to policy-relevant knowledge within that domain or issue-area. 1. Shared set of normative and principled beliefs; 2. Shared causal beliefs; 3. Shared notions of validity; 4. A common policy enterprise.” (3)

Within an epistemic community bias must be put to the side (and recognized by the members) to ensure they create the best solution.

Table 1: Approaches to the Study of Policy


Level of analysis and area of study

Factors that influence policy change

Mechanisms and effects of change

Primary actors

Epistemic communities approach

Transnational; state administrators and international institutions

Knowledge; causal and principled beliefs

Diffusion of information and learning; shifts in the patterns of decision making

Epistemic communities; individual states

Nonrealist approaches

International; states in political and economic systems

Distribution of capabilities; distribution of costs and benefits from actions

Technological change and war; shifts in the available power resources of states and in the nature of the game


Dependency theory-based approaches

International; global system

Comparative advantage of states in the global division of labor; control over economic resources

Changes in production; shifts in the location of states in the global division of labor.

States in the core, periphery, and semiperiphery multinational corporations

Poststructuralist approaches

International; discourse and language

Usage and meanings of words

Discourse; the opening of new political spaces and opportunities