Unlocking the Decision-Making Process: An Analysis of U.S. Counter-narcotic Policy Making towards Mexico and Colombia

Susana Dominguez


By inquiring on why U.S. counter-narcotic policy differed in Colombia and Mexico, this project sought to understand why a similar problem, drug trafficking, has been dealt with dissimilar policies. The researcher hypothesized that through the rational actor model, these differences in policy-making could be explained. By using congruence procedure type 1 on a comparative case study, Plan Colombia and the Merida Initiative, the researcher determined if the rational actor’s variables were present. The variables included: ranking of options, agreement on rankings, consideration of the probability of success, and agreement on beliefs and values.

The results of this project did not support the hypothesis. Policy makers ranked options and considered the probability of success, but did not agree on rankings or agree on beliefs and values in the decision-making process for both cases. Therefore, this project did not support the rational actor model. Although with the assistance of the observations for these two cases, the researcher hypothesizes that the government politics model and the operational code school of thought could explain the differences in United States’ counter-narcotic policy. Further research must be conducted in order to confirm or disconfirm these hypotheses.


counter-narcotics, policy, rational actor model

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