Pipeline Blues

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The German support of Gazprom-owned pipeline project Nord Stream 2 has antagonized many of its long-standing western allies. Opponents of the project are concerned about lost transit revenue and increased import dependency on Russia. Even though international energy policy has become a more salient issue, scholarly attention for the issue remains limited. The research takes two approaches to the puzzle of the German decision: a synthesis of neoclassical realism and mercantilism, and social constructivism. Drawing on process tracing of the three decision-making phases, it finds that the ‘neoclassical mercantilist approach’ is best fit to explain German support of the project. Key decision-makers largely follow a rational analysis of threats and opportunities, in which domestic energy firms act as intervening variables. Still, the social constructivist variables can also shed light on the underexposed, boundedly rational factors of decision-making: the personal convictions of key decision-makers and historically rooted discourses. As this thesis relied on literature review only, future research on the social constructivist dimension could incorporate interviews and surveys to more specifically examine the German perceptions of Russia. Frame analysis could analyze historical discourses. Additionally, more attention could be devoted to the specific interaction patterns between key-decision makers and domestic societal actors with regards to foreign economic policy.
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