Varieties of the Negotiating State
It may be useful to begin this concluding chapter with a look back over the ground that we have covered. Substantive policy analysis, so I said at the beginning, is concerned with the relationship between conditions considered problematic by the individuals or groups affected and the means available for the collective resolution of such problems in ways that are thought to be superior in terms of the public interest. Interaction-oriented political science research, by contrast, would focus on the institutions and actors through which problems are converted into policy outputs and outcomes that -- in the light of substantive policy analysis -- may be considered more or less effective solutions. This book was to be about a set of conceptual tools that could facilitate the theoretically disciplined study of policy interactions.
Such tools, I suggested, could be located within the unifying framework of actor-centered institutionalism, which treats policy as the outcome of the interactions of resourceful and boundedly rational actors whose capabilities, preferences, and perceptions are largely, but not completely, shaped by the institutionalized norms within which they interact. I then discussed the reasons for using composite-actor concepts and for distinguishing among aggregate, collective, and corporate actors, and I suggested useful distinctions regarding the capabilities, perceptions, and preferences of composite and individual actors. Next I elaborated the potential of game-theoretic interpretations of constellations among policy actors, their relationship to the underlying substantive policy problems, and the welfare-theoretic and justice-oriented criteria by which solutions could be evaluated. In Chapters 5 through 8 I then presented in greater detail the four basic modes of strategic interaction -- unilateral action, negotiations, voting, and hierarchy -- and I discussed the conditions under which each of these is capable of generating policy outcomes that are likely to be welfare efficient and responsive to criteria of distributive justice.