The Failure of Foreign Policy Entrepreneurs in the Trump Administration

Roberta Haar*, Lutz F. Krebs

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


One of the most important decisions a president will make after an election is what kind of relationship he/she will have with cabinet secretaries and agency heads. Will the president be controlling or autonomy giving? George H. W. Bush created a contractor presidency, one that subcontracted management to important officials, giving them considerable freedom, making then policy entrepreneurs. Yet when it came time to support initiatives, Bush did not back his policy entrepreneurs, which ultimately led to policy failure. Bush’s approach to government is informative because of its similarities with Donald J. Trump’s strategy, who also created a contractor presidency. But, Trump prevented those same executives from building their own teams and gave equivocal or even contradictory responses to their policy initiatives. Just as Bush’s unsupportive relationship with his policy entrepreneurs led to policy defeat, Trump’s contradicting connection with his policy entrepreneurs also resulted in policy failure.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)446-478
Number of pages33
JournalPolitics and Policy
Issue number2
Early online date4 Mar 2021
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021


  • American Foreign Policy
  • Donald J. Trump presidency, American Foreign Policy, contractor presidency
  • NATO
  • Russia
  • Transatlantic Relations
  • administrative presidency
  • contractor presidency
  • policy entrepreneurs
  • General John Kelly
  • Contractor Presidency
  • General James N. Mattis
  • Donald J. Trump Presidency
  • General H. R. McMaster
  • Policy Entrepreneurs
  • Administrative Presidency


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