The Cybernetic Theory of Decision
New Dimensions of Political Analysis
John D. Steinbruner
With a New Preface by the Author


In this classic work, John Steinbruner argues that the time is ripe for exploration of a new theoretical perspective on the decision-making process in government. He suggests that the cybernetic theory of decision as developed in such diverse fields as information theory, mathematical logic, and behavioral psychology generates a systematic but non-rational analysis that seems to explain quite naturally decisions that are puzzling when viewed from the rational perspective. When combined with the basic understanding of human mental operations developed in cognitive psychology, the cybernetic theory of decision presents a striking picture of how decision makers deal with the intense uncertainty and fundamental value conflicts that arise in bureaucratic politics. To illustrate the advantages of using cybernetic theory, Steinbruner analyzes the issue of sharing nuclear weapons among the NATO allies.

John D. Steinbruner is Professor of Public Policy at the University of Maryland, where he directs the Center for International and Security Studies. He is a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. His many books include, most recently, Principles of Global Security.