International Relations

The Failure of Foreign Policy Entrepreneurs in the Trump Administration

Roberta Haar Maastricht University
Lutz F. Krebs Maastricht University
The relationship a president has with the heads of his departments is a defining characteristic of a presidency. Policy entrepreneurs require presidential support and political capital to increase the chances of policy success. This paper argues that Donald J. Trump has established a contractor presidency that is encumbered by a number of scenarios originally identified in Laffin’s (1996) study of the policy failures of George H.W. Bush’s administration. This investigation begins by first presenting the contractor model as a possible presidential strategy, and then establishes that Trump has embraced the contractor presidency as his approach towards foreign policy. We then identify alternate scenarios for a failed contractor presidency and consider whether these explanations apply to Trump’s version. We find that two of the five scenarios apply to Trump’s unsuccessful foreign policy: lack of support for his appointed officials and the appointment of inexperienced loyalists.