The Influence of Political Culture on the Formation of Pre-Regime Climate Change Policies in Sweden, the United States, and Japan

Johnson AK (1995). The Influence of Political Culture on the Formation of Pre-Regime Climate Change Policies in Sweden, the United States, and Japan. IIASA Working Paper. IIASA, Laxenburg, Austria: WP-95-130

[img]
Preview
Text
WP-95-130.pdf

Download (1MB) | Preview

Abstract

This paper tests the claims of cultural theory using the formation of climate change policies in Sweden, the United States and Japan as case studies. Cultural theory is frequently employed by social scientists to explain various aspects of human behavior. The theory posits that any social group consists of three main cultural types: the egalitarian, the market-oriented, and the hierarchical. Though all groups contain elements of each, one cultural type usually predominates, giving the group its unique decision-making character. In the egalitarian group, for example, decision-making is based on broad consensus of the group, and decisions are aimed at providing equal benefits to all members. In a market culture, by contrast, the primary focus is on maximizing benefits to the individual. Decisions are often made based on market principles (i.e., relative prices). In a hierarchy-dominant society, decision-making is highly centralized, with a few powerful bodies making decisions for the entire society. This type of group tends to be very bureaucratic, with a great deal of emphasis on administrative procedure. This paper applies cultural theory at the national level and tests to what extent the theory is able to project how countries will respond in addressing the issue of global warming. For the purposes of this study, Sweden best represents the egalitarian-dominant culture; the United States best exemplifies market-dominant culture, and Japan is the most appropriate example of a culture dominated by hierarchical elements.

To test the theory, the following five questions are asked: (1) What does the theory predict about how countries will view their role in a global commons problem? (2) What does the theory predict about the nature of the policy-making process within each society? (3) What does the theory predict about each country's likely choice of policy instruments? (4) What does the theory predict about the speed of policy-making and implementation? (5) What does the theory predict about how countries will view the role of technology in solving environmental problems? And if there is a role, where does the drive to innovate originate?

The paper then describes the development of global climate change policies in each of the three countries, including a discussion of the motivations that led each country to act on the issue. Finally, it analyzes to what extent actual events in the three countries corresponded to the theory's predictions.

The theory was strongest in predicting the nature of the policy-making process and weakest in predicting the choice of policy instruments. In spite of its limitations, cultural theory suggests the importance of cultural influences in the policy-making process. Because it helps us to understand how different types of societies arrive at decisions regarding matters of international concern, moreover, the theory could prove extremely useful to those involved in developing international agreements, enabling them to formulate an agreement which is compatible with various types of societies.

Item Type: Monograph (IIASA Working Paper)
Research Programs: International Environmental Commitments (IEC)
Depositing User: IIASA Import
Date Deposited: 15 Jan 2016 02:05
Last Modified: 11 Aug 2016 18:25
URI: http://pure.iiasa.ac.at/4468

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item

International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
Schlossplatz 1, A-2361 Laxenburg, Austria
Phone: (+43 2236) 807 0 Fax:(+43 2236) 71 313