What Were They Thinking? an Analysis of European Finance Ministers' Cognitive Maps during the Euro Crisis

Wednesday, July 12, 2017
JWS - Stevenson Lecture Theatre (University of Glasgow)
Marij Swinkels , Utrecht School of Governance, Utrecht University
The "ideational turn" in political science has increased scholarly attention to the role and influence of leaders' ideas in decision making (see e.g. Blyth, 1997; Van Esch, 2016; Béland & Cox, 2011). Although much work has been done theorizing the role of leaders' ideas, the vast bulk of the empirical work consists of single case or small-N case studies. This makes it difficult to compare analyses and to generalize claims. Furthermore, much of the empirical work focuses on single moments in time, rather than changes in leaders' ideas over time. This article focuses on the question: how did European leaders voice their ideas during the course of the Euro crisis? In order to answer this question, the ideational patterns of 23 Ministers of Finance of European Member States will be analysed during the course of the Euro crisis. Using the method of Comparative Cognitive Mapping, that allows for both qualitative and quantitative analysis of beliefs, the article aims to increase our understanding of patterns of ideational change or stability in three time periods and for a large set of leaders. Ultimately, this descriptive empirical analysis will serve as input for further research into explanatory factors for ideational change or stability.