The detailed comments on the methodology used in preparing this current
volume appear at the end of this volume (Section
SZ). In particular, the question of how strategies (or "action proposals")
are to be usefully defined for the purpose of this project is also discussed.
The comments also include insights arising from the process of collecting
and ordering the information for this publication, notably with respect
to the challenges of governance.
Sections SB through SF of this volume contain entries on 8,963 strategies.
These entries cross-reference each other as well as a further set of 20,339
entries present in the database but not published in this volume (for reasons
of space and their relative incompleteness -- designated Sections SG, SJ
and SK). The total number of strategy entries from which this volume was
compiled is, therefore, 29,542 -- linked by a total of 84,890 relationships.
Detailed statistics are provided in Section
SZ (Note 1).
The strategies in this volume also have 21,599 cross-references to world
problem entries profiled in Volume 1 of this Encyclopedia. Where
possible, cross-references (currently 11,859) are also provided from strategies
to specific international organizations in the companion Yearbook
of International Organizations.
The prime source of information for the strategies in this volume are
the 20,000 international organizations profiled in the Yearbook
of International Organizations. Needless to say, every effort was
made to use effectively the documentation of intergovernmental organizations,
especially from the United Nations family of organizations and their conferences.
One major source, for example, was Agenda 21, the "global agenda
for the 21st century" produced in 1992 as a result of the UNCED process.
Efforts have also been made to use quite different types of sources, including
strategies emerging from village level consultations in the third world,
as well as media articulations of strategies active in the international
community. The nature of the sources, and how they were used, is discussed
in Section SZ.
4. Work in process
It is most important to appreciate the immense task that is represented
by the collection of material on "strategies" employed or advocated by
over 20,000 international bodies and other constituencies around the world.
It is a task that might easily be considered both impossible and absurd,
even if such a project could be generously funded. (On funding, see 1.8).
The current database of 30,000 "strategies" is the result of employing
a particular method of collecting and processing information (described
in Section SZ).
In its present form, it represents the result of work initiated in February
1994 and completed for publication in July 1995 (comprising a total of
approximately 18 person-months of research and editorial time).
As with the other databases in this Encyclopedia, the project
is viewed as a long-term operation. Publication at any one time reveals
many imperfections. Much work is "in process". The fact that some 20,000
strategies were excluded from the publication is one indication of this.
Many of those excluded are as important as those included, others duplicate
those included to some degree, or have not yet been usefully related to
them. Editorial work treated all 30,000 strategies equally up to the point
of going to press, when a somewhat arbitrary decision as to what to include
had to be made. The division into Sections SB through SF has been made
on the basis of some simple rules (discussed in Section
SZ), but these too could be considered quite crude.
5. Scope and coverage
There are few compilations of strategies of this kind. Most efforts
in this direction focus on particular strategies or sets of strategies.
In the general spirit of this Encyclopedia, the objective here has
been to cast a very wide net in order to locate very different kinds of
strategy -- not simply those that are conventional favoured.
The question then becomes: "What is a strategy?". Many of the strategies
collated here would be considered ridiculous from some conventional perspective.
But given the strategic impotence of the international community, faced
with situations like Rwanda, Bosnia and unemployment, those making such
judgements are also vulnerable to the harshest of criticism.
6. Challenge of language
Adding to the complication of what constitutes a strategy is the question
of how to decode the language in which strategic formulations are expressed.
Political discourse often responds to failed strategies of the past by
using new language. In practice it is seldom clear when new verbal formulations
represent distinct initiatives as opposed to repeating old initiatives
under new labels. At the same time, some constituencies may attach great
strategic importance to particular verbal distinctions to which others
are insensitive. In both cases, there is the additional complication of
whether the strategy is intended as more than an exercise in wishful thinking.
It is easy to suspect that many resolutions of international conferences
are of little more significance than New Year's resolutions.
These published strategy profiles reflect some progress in clarifying
such issues for some strategies. As an ongoing exercise, and for the database
as a whole, much more remains to be done.
7. Ordering the set of strategies
At a time when the international community already finds it a major
challenge, if not a virtually impossible one, to agree on any single strategy,
a panorama of 30,000 strategies raises many questions. How indeed is it
possible to make any sense of such strategic chaos -- without engaging
in conceptual reductionism of the most dubious nature? One tentative step
towards ordering the information on strategies has been taken by grouping
strategies in terms of some 239 strategic polarities (Section SP). This
serves as a special kind of index to the entries in Sections SB, SC and
8. Feedback loops
The same ordering challenge occurred with respect to the world problem
information (presented in its fourth iteration in Volume 1 of this Encyclopedia).
In that case some experiments have been made to identify effective feedback
loops which link together several problems (discussed in Section
TZ, Volume 2). Such loops offer the potential of shifting the level
of analysis as well as the level of strategic response. The nature of the
shift is away from a focus on any particular problem (or strategy) to interrelated
complexes of self-reinforcing problems (or strategies). For this reason,
a selection of some 830 vicious loops of problems is published in this
volume (Section SV). Clearly a similar analysis could be undertaken to
identify self-reinforcing strategic loops once the strategy data has been
subject to further work, specifically by refining "facilitating" relationships
between individual strategies.
9. "The Answer"
The purpose of this volume is to endeavour to profile and juxtapose
the multitude of strategic "answers", advocated by different groups at
every level of society, in response to the challenges of the times. An
effort of this kind readily evokes inquiry as to the editorial view on
"what should be done" in the light of this exercise. To the extent that
such a view exists, it is concerned more with the challenge of working
with an ecology of strategies, whether mutually hostile or complementary
to each other. The effort to identify "the strategic answer" or "the solution",
as with the effort to identity "the key problem", is considered by the
editors to be part of a mindset that is inadequate to the complexity of
the challenge. The related dilemmas are discussed in Section
From Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential