The Servant of Many Masters: The Multiple Commitments of State- Agents

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Personal commitments are a ubiquitous but undertheorized phenomenon in the everyday wheels of world politics. While resonating with multiple threads in international relations theory, the role of individuals' commitments in statecraft, diplomacy, and foreign policy has hardly been addressed in and of itself. Drawing on insights from symbolic interactionism and organizational psychology, this article conceptualizes the notion of commitment highlighting its omnipresence in foreign policy and diplomatic practice. Specifically, the article demonstrates the analytical cache of the notion of commitment by focusing on moments when state-agents deviated from their commitment to the national interest, acting on behalf of other foci of commitment. Relying on Israeli, French, and EU diplomatic archives, we examine three illustrative case studies that show how and why state-agents dedicate time, energy, and resources to advance interests other than those of the state.

Original languageAmerican English
Article numbersqac026
JournalInternational Studies Quarterly
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations


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