ISA Presidential Address



The state of International Studies as the 20th century draws to a close is disconcerting. Among the shortcomings are intolerance of competing paradigms, models, methods, and findings; a closed-mind mentality; a tendency to research fashions; the increasingly-visible retreat from science in International Studies; and the low value placed by most scholars on cumulation of knowledge.

Flawed dichotomies are pervasive: theory versus history as approaches to knowledge; deductive versus inductive paths to theory; a horizontal (breadth) versus vertical (in-depth) focus of inquiry, based upon aggregate data (quantitative) vs. case study (qualitative) methods of analysis, using large ‘N' vs. small ‘N' clusters of data; system vs. actor as the optimal level of analysis, and closely related, unitary vs. multiple competing actors; rational calculus vs. psychological constraints on choice, and the related divide over reality vs. image as the key to explaining state behavior; and neo-realism vs. neo-institutionalism as the correct paradigm for the study of world politics.

Without the integration of knowledge, revised from time to time in the light of fresh theoretical insights, improved methods, and new evidence, International Studies is destined to remain a collection of bits and pieces of explanation of reality and behavior.

In this spirit, an attempt to overcome the dichotomies and to achieve synthesis, along with cumulation, was the raison d' etre of the International Crisis Behavior Project, now entering its 25th year of systematic research on crisis, conflict and war in the 20th century. From the flawed dichotomies has emerged synthesis in paths to theory, methodologies, the testing of propositions, and cumulation of knowledge, one demonstration that it is possible to transform International Studies into a genuine social science discipline.