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Strategy – Culture – Europeanization – towards a thick conception of EU strategic culture

Open Panel

Abstract

Conventional strategic culture approaches to ESDP/CSDP suffer from several analytical deficits. This paper suggests taking a fresh perspective to overcome these shortcomings. The key is a “de- and reconstruction” of the concept of strategic culture. Instead of running into the well-known deadlocks, the paper combines three basic concepts from different theoretical strands in an innovative way: strategy, culture and Europeanization. This allows mapping the degree and magnitude of strategic culture/s in a continuum between member states and EU level as well as between strategic design and implementation. This thick conception of EU strategic culture is certainly analytically more challenging but as the paper demonstrates, it will yield far more meaningful results than the traditional approaches. The paper starts with outlining the building blocks of the approach: Strategy is analysed in three categories, 1. content: the specific relation of aims and means, 2. process: comprising three phases: design, organisation and implementation of a strategy, forming a cyclic process, 3. the empirical context, in which the strategic content is generated through the process. Culture plays a major explanatory role in this “strategic context” throughout the strategy phases. However, the paper argues that it has to be put in perspective vis-à-vis functionalist-institutional as well as material aspects, which play an increasing role in the later phases of the strategy processes. Europeanization allows assessing the degree of convergence that exists among the EU member states regarding their role conception of the EU as a point of reference for security conceptions. It allows to combine intergovernmental and community related conceptions of EU-actorness. In a second part, the paper will integrate these elements into an analytical matrix. Along the strategy process, it will explain how, and to what extent, ideal, institutional and material factors impact upon on the shaping of the strategic content. Europeanization helps accounting for the degree and magnitude of the EU along the strategy process. It offers a gradual approach to EU strategic culture, as an outcome and a process. A third part will present two indicative tests of the feasibility, types of results and limits using the examples of EU crisis management and armaments.