International Organization

Research Article

Introduction: epistemic communities and international policy coordination

Peter M. Haas

How decision makers define state interests and formulate policies to deal with complex and technical issues can be a function of the manner in which the issues are represented by specialists to whom they turn for advice in the face of uncertainty. The contributors to this issue examine the role that networks of knowledge-based experts—epistemic communities—play in articulating the cause-and-effect relationships of complex problems, helping states identify their interests, framing the issues for collective debate, proposing specific policies, and identifying salient points for negotiation. Their analyses demonstrate that control over knowledge and information is an important dimension of power and that the diffusion of new ideas and data can lead to new patterns of behavior and prove to be an important determinant of international policy coordination.