Clements Center
Clements Center

Grand Strategy vs. Emergent Strategy in the conduct of foreign policy

Ionut Popescu Feb 10, 2017

Clements Center Postdoctoral Fellow Ionut Popescu was recently published in the Journal of Strategic Studies

Summary: Does a great power need to formulate a long-term grand strategy to guide its foreign policy actions? While some scholars continue to debate the competing merits of various grand strategies, a growing literature now emphasizes emergent learning and improvisation as the keys to success, as opposed to implementing a long-term design. In this article, Dr. Popescu explored these scholarly arguments by framing the debate as one between two schools of thought, Grand Strategy and Emergent Strategy. After presenting the main arguments and the historical examples associated with each school, Dr. Popescu evaluates the two approaches across four categories: the type of international security environment each of them is most suited for, the way each approach deals with short-term vs. long-term priorities, the domestic political conditions needed for each approach to be successful, and the type of presidential management qualities each school demands. Lastly, he discusses the implications of these arguments for the scholarship and the practice of foreign policy and national security strategy. 

Read the full article here