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Saturday, December 24, 2005

Most influential IR scholars

The November/December Foreign Policy (free registration required) has a piece worth reading called "Inside the Ivory Tower," by Susan Peterson, Michael J. Tierney, and Daniel Maliniak (all of the college of William and Mary). The article begins with a statement and asks an interesting question:
Professors of international relations shape future policy debates and mold the next generation of leaders. So who are these dons of diplomacy, and what do they believe?
Bill Petti mentioned this piece over a month ago on Duck of Minerva (my second home). The complete report is on Mike Tierney's website.

I won't get into the details of the piece, but want to focus on one survey result, which allowed the authors to identify the "top 25 scholars with the greatest impact on the discipline over the past 20 years."

In this post, I have listed the rank order of the top 25 scholars, with the date of their birth and current institution. For the top 10, I have included my subjective listing of the scholar's most influential IR publication (and date published). Many of these scholars, of course, are notable for many other publications, including some in comparative politics or other fields. The authors point out this finding:
One thing that stands out about these high achievers, though, is how similar they are: Nearly all are white men older than 50.
More on that below.

1. Robert O. Keohane (1941), Princeton, After Hegemony: Cooperation and Discord in the World Political Economy (1984)

2. Kenneth N. Waltz (1924), Emeritus California-Berkeley and Columbia, Theory of International Politics (1979)

3. Alexander Wendt (1958), Ohio State, Social Theory of International Politics (1999).

4. Samuel P. Huntington (1927), Harvard, The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order (1998).

5. John J. Mearsheimer (1947), University of Chicago, The Tragedy of Great Power Politics (2001)

6. Joseph S. Nye (1941), Harvard, coauthor (with Keohane) of Power and Interdependence: world politics in transition (1977).

7. Robert Jervis (1940), Columbia, The Logic of Images in International Relations (1970).

8. Bruce Bueno de Mesquita (1946), New York University and Stanford's Hoover Institution, The War Trap (1981)

9. Bruce M. Russett (1935), Yale, Grasping the Democratic Peace: Principles for a Post-Cold War World (1994).

10. Robert Gilpin (1930), Emeritus Princeton, The Political Economy of International Relations (1987).

Other than Wendt, who is a genuine anomoly (age 47), the youngest man on this list is Mearsheimer (age 58). Though I've listed books written in the 1990s and aughts, Huntington published the classic Political Order in Changing Societies in 1968, and both Russett and Mearsheimer were well-known liberals and realists long before penning their recent major works. Half of the works in the top 10 could be read when I started graduate school, more than 20 years ago.

None of the scholars ranked 11 through 25 received mention by even 10% of the respondents to the survey. Still, all are male. Most are more than 50 years old and were well-known when I was in grad school.

11. Peter J. Katzenstein (1945), Cornell
12. Stephen D. Krasner (1942), Stanford
13. James N. Rosenau, George Washington
14. John Ruggie (1944), Harvard
15. Michael Doyle (1948), Columbia
16. James D. Fearon, Stanford
17. Immanuel Wallerstein (1930), Yale
18. Robert Cox (1926), Emeritus York (Toronto)
19. Hans J. Morgenthau (1904-1980), Chicago
20. Francis Fukuyama (1952), Johns Hopkins SAIS
21. J. David Singer (1925), Michigan
22. Stephen Walt (1955), Harvard
23. Jack L. Snyder, Columbia
23. Robert Axelrod (1943), Michigan
23. Stanley Hoffman (1928), Harvard

Walt is the youngest man listed and he just turned 50. I couldn't find birth dates for Rosenau, Fearon and Snyder. In 1999, Fearon won the Karl Deutsch Award for young IR scholars, so it is apparently safe to assume that he is closer to 40 than 50. Rosenau's first book in the Library of Congress catalog was published in 1951 and Snyder's first publication for RAND came out in 1976. In comments at the Duck of Minerva, I wrote:
there aren't any women and I think there are some major oversights. I'm guessing that in 10 years, many of these scholars will be on the list: Mike Barnett, Jeff Checkel, Marty Finnemore, David Held, Andrew Moravcsik, Thomas Risse, Kathryn Sikkink, and Anne-Marie Slaughter.
If you don't recognize those names, they are younger than those listed above, some are women, some are based abroad, and most are sympathetic to theoretical traditions that are neither realist nor liberal. They've read Wendt (and Ruggie and Cox) and are influenced by the "constructivist turn" in IR. The William and Mary team made note:
When respondents were asked who is currently doing the most interesting research, four women, led by Martha Finnemore at George Washington University and Kathryn Sikkink at the University of Minnesota, scored highly.
Does it matter that the field of IR is dominated by white males eligible for AARP cards? Disclosure: I'm only a few years away from that demographic.

A better question: how much does it matter?

Let me ask readers two different questions:
  • What are the most influential IR books and articles published in the past 15 years (since 1990)?
  • Who are the field's most important thinkers under age 50?

    Feel free to leave comments or to send me an email.


    Update: Thanks to a reader, I fixed Wendt's birth year. The prior figure (1966) certainly didn't seem right given the publication of the agent structure IO article in 1987.

    Visit this blog's homepage.
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