F U T U R E I S R A E L
How to Initiate the Radical Raising of the Efficiency of Policy in Israel and Russia?Oleg Savelzon The question confined in the title is especially urgent in the situation when a country desperately needs to adapt to the substantial changes going on in and around it, which means that efficient decisions for issues urgent for the society as a whole, and not for its certain part, are needed. The most well-known countries that found themselves in such a situation are Israel and Russia, which are selected for analysis. It is shown that under the conditions of not ‘mature’ enough democracy in these countries, the conventional election procedure facilitates electing politicians inclined to the policy of inter-group redistribution rather than the policy of all-national efficiency. The election procedure has been analyzed in terms of its deviations from procedural rationality in decision-making. The deviations that stipulate the aforesaid ineffective work of the conventional election procedure have been revealed. It allows designing a new procedure which is free from these deviations and makes election campaigns irrelevant. The instilling of the new procedure might contribute to electing politicians more efficient regarding the whole society and save huge funds spent because of election campaigns. The renewal of the election procedure also might initiate the radical raising of the policies’ efficiency in Israel and Russia. A possible scenario of the initiation in question has been outlined.
At the election of the head of the country that took place in 2000 in Russia and 2001 in Israel more than a million Russians and about one hundred thousand Israelis voted against all the candidates. If people spend their free time on coming to the election site and accomplishing all formalities necessary for participating in the election to later vote against all, they need to get rid of the current political elite of the country. This need is so acute that, having no possibility to meet it, one at least needs to express it, even by such an unpractical action as voting against all.
No more practical are the appeals to radical change of the political elite in Russia and Israel, more and more often appearing in press. For illustration, I will quote an excerpt from the interview in the weekly ‘Seven Days’ from March 7, 2002 with A. Ben-Israel (D. Mazin), the author of the recently released and attracting the public’ attention book ‘The Chronology of Idiocy Or a Road to Death’ (the author accuses of deadly idiocy the whole political and mass media elite of Israel). To the interviewer’s question “How to stop what you call idiocy?” D. Mazin answers: “…A lot has to be changed in the country. In order to change much, we should change the rulers. However, they cannot be changed; they must be replaced… Second: and many workers of the media guilty of what is going on more than politicians. Today in the country there is a full dictatorship of the press, that is the dictatorship of its opinions… As for who to replace them with, very lucrative places are never empty. The situation will set forth the necessary people”. It remains unclear in the interview how we can practically come to a point when ‘the situation will set forth the necessary people’; the current political elite will be removed and will leave the very lucrative places empty; and the latter will be immediately occupied only by ‘the necessary people’.
Thus both voting against all and appeals to change the ruling elite have no a practical dimension. However, they prompt the first step on the way of radical raising the all-national efficiency of the policies in Israel and Russia. [A highly efficient policy is especially necessary for a country that is desperate to adapt to the fundamental changes going on in and around it, which means that it is in a great need of efficient decisions for issues urgent for the whole society, and not only for its part. Russia and Israel are the most famous countries in need of adaptation, for which reason they will be the focus of our attention below].
In my opinion, in order to initiate a radical raising of the all-national efficiency of policies in these countries, it is necessary to modernize the current procedure of democratic election that it will contribute more to coming to power of the people capable of conducting highly effective policy. To provide convincing grounding to this opinion, the following questions have to be answer. Why does the existing election procedure contribute more to the redistribution policy and not to the all-national efficient one? What, for instance, might a modernized procedure look like? Why is it imperative to start with the election? How could modernization be implemented in practice? These questions I will try to cover below.
2. A COMMON SENSE OVERVIEW OF THE PROBLEM
2.1. THE POLICY OF REDISTRIBUTION AND THE ALL-NATIONAL EFFICIENT POLICY
It seems that both in Russia and Israel the overwhelming majority of the population accepts as unavoidable evil the politicians’ working first of all for themselves and the groups of interested people; they do so even in those cases when it is to the detriment of the good of the commonwealth. I got this feeling from the tone of political commentaries in press, in the course of my discussions on politics with my acquaintances, by the reaction to my consultations and lectures on procedural rationality in decision-making in Israel and Russia. In them, as negative examples, I show how unfavorable for the majority of the society socio-political decisions were made not through rational collective procedures, but as a result of discredit of the competing variants, blackmailing, collusion and wrangling. Normally, from the Israeli or Russian audience I hear remarks that such illustrations are irrelevant since politicians, for an objective cause, merely cannot do without blackmailing, bargaining and other machinations behind the scenes. Allegedly, these are the necessary means of raising well-being, in the hope for which different groups of electors vote.
However, the well-being of a certain social strata, sector of society or population layer can be increased not only by capturing or haggling for this group of people a bigger piece from the not substantially increasing amount of the common good, i.e. by reducing what will be left for others (such policy is called redistribution). This can be achieved by significant increment of the common amount of the social good, increasing the well-being of all, that is by a fundamentally different policy which is called efficient. Over twenty years ago in the developed democracies there established a viewpoint that viewing the democratic process as rivalry of different groups of interest is too narrow (Mansbridge, 1980). It became clear that the focusing of attention on redistribution stipulated by the specific interests of separate groups could slower economic growth and make political life more complicated owing to the decrease of the importance of the issues common for the whole population (Olson, 1982). In order to prevent this, according to many, for instance M. Shapiro (1988), it was necessary to transfer to efficiency as to the major criterion of social policy and to rational decision-making process. ‘Good’ was considered to be not the policy which was a product of inter-group struggle, but the course that was developed on the basis of rational political analysis (Majone, 1996).
It should be noted that the estimate of the redistribution policy as less timely in comparison with the policy of efficiency got established in the countries with mature democracy. But in them the problem of more fair consideration of the interests of different population groups is usually no less pressing than any other permanent social problem. Opposite is the situation in the countries that need to adapt to fundamental internal and external changes concerning the whole nation - here many common problems are much more pressing than the problem of inter-group redistribution. If in a situation when the redistribution policy meets the most actual social problem (in mature democracies) this policy is thought to be less actual than effective, in the reverse situation (e.g. in Russia and Israel) such an estimate is even more grounded.
In the present paper the concept of the efficiency of policy includes this policy’s ensuring of significant increase of the all-national amount of any social goods, i.e. ensuring the increase not only of economy but also security, social appeasement, lawfulness, freedom, culture, etc. In order to accentuate this, I will further call this policy not merely ‘efficient’, but ‘efficient all-national’. It is evident that the urgency of the policy of all-national efficiency is extremely higher than the urgency of redistribution policy in those countries where there are numerous different kinds of all-national-scale problems lowering in different aspects the well-being of the whole society. Such are Russia and Israel, which found themselves in a ‘disadatation’ situation (i.e. in a situation of poor adaptation to the fundamental changes happening inside and outside country and concerning the nation as a whole).
2.2. ISRAELI AND RUSSIAN DISADAPTATION
Israel is experiencing critical changes in itself (the mass immigration from the ex-USSR, which has increased the population of the country by 20% during a few years, and the formation of the Palestinian autonomy) as well as outside it - the process of peaceful settlement with the Arab neighbors against the background of the ceased confrontation between the two superpowers (the U.S. and the USSR) in the Middle East and the conversion of the world political system from bipolar, with the poles in Moscow and Washington, into uni-polar. For further presentation it is important to note that an especially complicated adaptation problem is faced by new immigrants from the former USSR. They have to adapt both to their changing the country and to the Israeli changes proper. It is no wonder then that strong disadaptation is typical of their overwhelming majority (Feldman, 2002).
Along with the radical inner transformations, there are basic changes in the outer environment of Russia: the collapse of the socialist camp and the Soviet Union, the Russian empire's global defeat in the cold war and in the economic competition with the West. On the international arena Russia is not considered as a mighty power anymore. The financial dependence of Russia on the West has increased tremendously.
A unique aspect of the similarity between the situations of disadaptation in Israel and Russia is the similarity of the situations in their ideological spheres.
The state of Israel was formed as a result of the embodiment of the Zionist ideology. Until recently this ideology determined all important decisions in the country. That is why Zionism can be called "a state forming" ideology of Israel. In the beginning of the 90s the start of the peace process actually meant that in the geo-political sphere the left-wing government had accepted another ideology - "A New Middle East". Although it is now being rejected by a considerable segment of the population and reviewed by a number of left-wing politicians, the realities of the peace process under way forced many rightists to recede from their rigid Zionist positions. In the economy both the leftists and the rightists have lately been conducting market reforms. This, in its turn, weakens Zionism since it contributes to establishing individualistic values in social consciousness, which force out the collective Zionist ones. Thus Israel has entered the period of demolishing the state-forming ideology, and a new ideology, which could substitute Zionism in its role orienting and consolidating society is not to be seen yet.
Besides Israel, one more state with a state forming ideology was created in the twentieth century. The USSR was formed when the republics where the communists won joined Russia. The communist ideology became then a basis for a totalitarian regime in the country, determining all the aspects of the life of The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (and, consequently, its basic part - The Russian Soviet Federal Socialist Republic - now Russia). This ideology lost influence and the status of state forming (which was one of the main causes of the USSR's collapse), but what was offered in place of it - liberal ideology of civil society with the market economy - happened to be alien to the majority of Russians. That is why one of the reasons of disadaptation of the Russian society, where, in the past, the directing and consolidating functions were fulfilled by the communist ideology, is that, at present, these functions are not being fulfilled at all. No wonder that analysts and intellectuals in Russia favor the opinion that the crisis in the country is first and foremost a crisis of ideas and, consequently, Russia’s acquiring national ideology is a decisive condition of its getting out of the crisis.
2.3. HOW THE CONVENTIONAL ELECTION PROCEDURE FAVORS MACHINATORS
It is evident that in order to conduct an efficient all-national policy, figures with specific abilities, qualification and value orientation are required. What prevents and what could favor the best of such politicians take the power? I am going to consider these questions in regard to the election procedure.
Election is supposed to be a competing selection procedure by means of which people select from the competing candidates the best for further political management of society. It is natural when a competing procedure of selecting candidates for some future activity built up so that the people, who have shown the qualities required for this very activity to the greatest degree, successfully pass the process of selection. Such procedures are, say, the entrance tests or exams to universities (those are accepted who have demonstrated better knowledge and abilities, necessary for further studies), internal elimination sport competitions for participation in international contests (selected are those who have shown the best results in the kind of sport in which one is going to compete in the international arena), troupe or orchestra contests (those who have shown the most preferable acting or musical faculties necessary for the future performances and concerts are welcomed), etc.
In the current procedure of democratic election, competition of candidates takes place in the course of election campaign, to succeed in which they rely on the so-called election technologies. I had a chance to observe it from inside when I worked as a consultant in decision-making with two parties in the campaigns of the elections to the Knesset of 1996 and 1999. My observations prompt the conclusion that the unwritten but commonly accepted social-cultural norm of conducting Russian or Israeli election campaign is treating ordinary citizens as ‘raw material’ that should be "processed" with election technologies. Such "processing" is carried out by means of deception, bribery and other methods of manipulation, typical specifically of election campaigns.
As a rule, the public is deceived in three issues. First, political forces inspire their potential electorate with the thought that they stood up for the latter’s interests selflessly and highly professionally in the previous term, in which they achieved the best possible results. In doing this, they greatly overestimate their own merits and achievements, attribute to themselves accomplishments which actually belong to others or merely pretend to have accomplished a thing that does not exist. Second, politicians cheat the public, slandering their competitors. Counter-propaganda is built up in this case in the way opposite to propaganda: the competitors' strong sides and achievements are disparaged; moreover, they are defamed without disdaining at times the most indecent means. Third, people are fooled with luring promises that are not meant to be kept (the best expression of it one can find in the famous phrase of the Israeli Prime Minister of the 60s, Levi Eshkol: “Yes, I promised this. But I did not promise that I would keep this promise”). It has to be pointed out that deception is the bigger, the more general problems the promises concerned and the more they were associated with the masses of regular electors. Politicians do not neglect their specific confidential promises that are given to certain high rank interested individuals sponsoring the election campaigns.
Politicians try to bribe potential voters by arranging picnics, concerts, and celebrations for them, and in Russia often by directly buying a voice for a bottle of vodka or ten rubles.
Specific pre-election manipulation is, for instance, publication of self-serving faked data of the public opinion surveys; prepaid favorable references in speeches of very authoritative and celebrated people; nomination by one political faction of several allegedly independent candidates who, at the right moment, withdraw their candidacies and call for the voters to elect the favorite candidate of this faction; etc.
Thus, to become an influential public politician, one has to win in the pre-election competition for which application of the aforesaid “unscrupulousness” but very efficient methods is normative. Obviously, such a norm greatly reduces the chances for victory of those who adhere to “clean” ways and, on the contrary, increases the chances of not virtuous people. It should be observed that at the start of the Western political thought in Ancient Greece 2,500 years ago virtue was considered one of two (the second was prudence) major traits necessary for those who rule the country.
However, virtue is not the only, but the most evident trait necessary for governing for the good of the whole society, which the winners of election campaigns are unlikely to possess owing to the current organization of election campaigns. To win in the competition, in which the most efficient methods are fraud, bribery and manipulation, one has to possess absolutely different traits (for example, to be unprincipled, able to instill vain hopes, extremely selfish, etc.) than to manage society in the interests of people (for instance, to be principled, long-sighted, patriotic, etc.).
In vocational psychology it has been established that normally the interests and abilities of an individual approximately coincide (Chartrand, 1992; Prediger & Vansickle, 1992). A human being, more often than not, prefers to act in the way he or she best can. Moreover, the studies of purposeful behavior have shown that an individual tends to set such goals whose means of achieving he or she has mastered best. Especially often it can be observed in the behavior oriented at a certain norm, i.e. a socially approved way of action. In such a case it is almost impossible to separate goals from means since both come to following the norm (Naumova, 1988). That is why orientation of politicians (and, consequently, the fundamental orientation of policy) in Russia and Israel at redistribution is a norm supported greatly by the fact that in these countries power gets into the hands of those who possess personal traits and skills allowing to successfully solve redistribution tasks.
Indeed, the abilities and skills to deceive, bribe and manipulate ensure success in both election campaigns and redistribution policy. In the latter the most efficient means are bargaining, collusion, blackmailing and suchlike machinations behind the scenes. These means are best mastered by those who have the best abilities and skills of deception, bribing and other ways of manipulation. That is to say, the situation in the Russian and Israeli policies can be explained by sheer common sense: if due to the organization of selection to power structures mostly people with a talent for machinations get in, they direct their power activity at what they are mostly skilled in - machinations. Thus the norm inherent in the process of selection for further activity (“machinatorship” of election campaigns) contributes to maintaining the related norm in this very activity (fundamental orientation of politics at “machinating” redistribution).
2.4. SOME FACTORS OF THE FUNCTIONING OF THE REDISTRIBUTIVE NORM IN POLICY
Together with the aforementioned contribution, the opposite takes place as well: redistribution as a norm in policy contributes to the ‘machinatorship’ of election campaigns. [Furthermore, if we speak about the origin of these norms, the initial one is orientation of policy at redistribution - it was one of the many reasons that resulted in an allied norm of implementing the election. In it the natural order of things manifested itself, where, as noted above, the competitive procedure of selection for some activity should be arranged so that it would be successfully passed by people who have maximally shown the traits normative for this activity.] Thus the ‘machinating’ redistribution policy and the ‘machinatorship’ of election campaigns facilitate each other; what was originally the reason and what was the result is not important any more.
Another factor facilitating the redistribution policy is that for an ordinary person it is more natural to expect profit as soon as possible without considering probable losses brought about by it in the future than strategic considerations of the long-term perspective. For this reason redistribution political rhetoric that meets this inclination to immediate gaining is close and understandable to regular voters. At the same time it is clear that they are not ready yet to perceive strategic ideas and rational political analysis on which the policy of all-national efficiency is based.
Certainly, if the media widely and persistently explained that the norm existing in the political sphere is not urgent at all in the current situation of disadaptation in Russia and Israel, quite many people would have enough common sense to understand the inadequacy of the commonly accepted redistribution policy. However, in these countries both the press and analytical centers are connected mainly with certain groups of interested people or political forces; that is why the seemingly annihilating criticism, to which reporters and analysts often subject the current policy and the active politicians, in reality does not annihilate them, but on the contrary helps them to survive. First, the criticism coming from commentators-opponents, as a rule, only increases the popularity of the criticized politicians among their interested people. Besides, criticism is usually opposed by apologetics coming from the commentators-supporters. Second, the issues of the high generalization level - whether the current structure of the political elite is appropriate, whether the norm existing in policy is relevant - are practically not touched upon by the media. Both in Russia and Israel a wide discussion is held only regarding more or less “earthly” concrete things - acquisition and loss of spheres of influence and positions, decisions and decision projects, sometimes ideas underlying the currently normative policies and designed either by the figures from the political elite or by the champions of the views of some established groups of political interests.
That is to say, the media are also oriented at the redistribution both in terms of goals and means. The press is used for attracting the public to some known political views and distracting it from others. This is being done through the editor’s “redistribution” of the reported by the media facts, opinions and ideas among the more or less accepted views. [Such editor’s policy of “informational redistribution” is usually grounded by the statement that the public wants to hear or to read either what it agrees with or what it can easily understand by the interesting (and thus familiar) topics. According to the data of my private survey of the most originally thinking colleagues, they most often hear this statement from editors refusing to publish materials containing fresh non-trivial ideas and views even on most vital issues or, worse than that, bring up new issues.] As a result, both the irrelevant structure of the composition of the political elite and the non-relevant norm inherent in politics are perceived by the public as something natural and having no better real alternative.
It seems not right, however, to run to an extreme, saying that in the redistribution policy and the politicians devoted to it there is nothing and can be nothing positive. One can’t deny the existence of redistribution problems, which means that they have to be solved. Moreover, one should pay attention to the opinion of the supporters of the efficient policy (Majone, 1996) that any efficient political course, to be realizable from the point of view of policy, must at the same time meet the restrictions of redistribution nature. There is no ground to believe that because the representatives of the top political establishment have a talent for redistribution activity, no one of them will be able to conduct an effective all-national policy, and therefore it is preferable to remove all of them from governing the country, as is proposed, for instance, by D. Mazin and some others. It is clear that if there were accepted a norm in policy that would require from politicians all-national efficiency, part of the present political elite would meet these requirements. So it seems productive to speak only about the change of an irrelevant norm of the political life in Russia and Israel, and this means not the stopping of redistribution activity, but radical decrease of its priority and a fundamental turn to the policy of all-national efficiency.
2.5. THE COUNTER-PRODUCTIVITY OF ELECTION CAMPAIGNS
Thus with the norm of conducting election campaigns formed in Israel and Russia, democratic elections as competing procedures of selection for future managerial political activity have become counter-productive: they favor the success of candidates possessing the qualities not only unnecessary but even harmful for what politicians are supposed to do - effective governing the state for the good of the whole society.
This unnatural situation has two other absurd peculiarities.
The first is that political management of a society, having become a quite common occupation, has not grown into a specialty. By occupation I mean paid work. A specialty is a kind of qualified work activity that requires certain knowledge and skills; in other words, there are norms of competency that a person has to meet to be regarded as a specialist. In order to acquire this status in many specialties, it is necessary to get a serious course of studies and test practice from experts, without which people in a civilized society are not admitted for working in complicated and responsible specialties; for instance, to treat patients in medical institutions, to conduct trials in court, to steer passenger aircraft or vessels, etc. Evidently, society management is the most complicated and responsible of all existing professions. Therefore, it would be natural if people were admitted to undertake this professional activity only after extremely thorough expert checking of their competency and other qualities essential for it. An election campaign is not only a key element of the selection procedure, but also the main stage of the procedure of letting one get to power. However, this stage is such that to pass it, a candidate only has to excel the rivals in fooling the voters with the descriptions of how attractively he will govern. Since to do it, with the existing and “dirty” election technologies, it is necessary neither to be competent in society management nor to possess the traits essential for effective work in this area, there is no specialty "societal management." It means that there are no specialists; at best - political figures that acquired professional education in related spheres (political science, jurisdiction, economics, business administration, etc.).
The second absurdity is that political parties, to a lesser and lesser degree, function as champions of new ideas and more and more turn into tools of struggle for power and well-being used by different cliques of the ruling elite. As a result, at present, when the aggravating social problems in Russia and Israel require introduction of fresh non-trivial ideas through policy, the latter lacks the forces capable of doing it.[This stagnant situation is aggravated also by the fact that, as mentioned earlier, the media do not contribute to the public’s wide familiarization with such ideas.] Connection between ideas and the policy of all-national efficiency obvious since “the role of ideas embodies a notion of common interest or cooperation” (Garrett & Weingast, 1994, p. 203). This thought found an even more formulation in (Majone, 1996, p. 618): “ideas matter most when collective decisions are about efficiency issues - how to increase aggregate welfare - rather than about redistributing resources from one group of society to another”. Meantime, for a person who has fruitful ideas, but lacks great fame, or huge money, or powerful sponsorship, a political party is a necessary trampoline without which ascent to the top of society governing is impossible. Thus, such a person, in order to become a political leader and to put into practice non-trivial ideas of all-national effectiveness, on the contrary, first has to put these ideas aside, and, concealing them, in order not to look a violator of the norm, to climb the mentioned trampoline with the help of many-year routine activity of a party executive and intrigues inside parties.
Taking into consideration everything said above, it is no wonder that many respectful and efficient managers in Russia and Israel avoid politics, regarding it a “dirty”, boring and amateur matter. Also because of this, in particular, in Russian and Israeli political elites there have not been found figures, regardless of the norm, capable of effectively solving most complicated all-national problems that arose or got aggravated due to substantial changes in these countries.
2.6. THE INEFFICIENCY OF POLITICIANS
In Russia the inability of politicians to solve huge problems is especially obvious in economics: the total national product during the reform years has become almost twice as low. Similar disastrous drop off takes place also in many important social and cultural aspects of the country’s life. Bearing in mind that social-economic development was declared the main goal of the reform, the activity of the Russian elite should be regarded as not merely inefficient, but, so to say, counter-efficient. [And this is quite reasonable since in reality the main aspiration of the group of reformers at the beginning of the 90’s was not what they wide declared, but redistribution of power and state property. As an illustration of how fundamental this aspiration was, I will mention the recollections of Y. Voschanov, who worked at the end of 1991 as a press-secretary of the president of Russia, about the discussion of the just concluded agreement about liquidation of the USSR in the circle of the closest supporters of B. Yeltsin. One of them, pointing at the map of Russia, exclaimed with admiration: “Boris Nikolaevich, presently there is nobody above you on that territory!” “Yes, this was worth working for!” answered B. Yeltsin. It was in the process of the basic redistribution of power and state property that a new Russian elite was born. For that reason its focus on redistribution, being an inherent trait, is extraordinarily strong.]
In Israel the efficiency of politicians though not so “negative” as in Russia, is still definitely not satisfactory. Confirmation can be found, for instance, in the data of the survey conducted by The Brendan Institute at the beginning of 2001 (the information from the newspaper “Novosti Nedeli”). Israelis were asked to name one thing they dislike most in Israel. The most numerous (26%) was the answer “policy and government”, 25% - “the situation in the sphere of security”, which is actually a detailed version of the first answer because the second answer contains the main unsolved political problem.
It seems that it is the dissatisfaction with the low efficiency in governing the country that caused in Israel an impulse to steady change of the management of the country in the elections of the last ten years. In 1992 the right government was substituted by the left cabinet; in 1996 the rightists regained the power, but in 1999 they were again removed by the leftists. In 2001, at the election of the head of the government a right candidate won with a great advantage. Behind all this chaos there was the unsolved problem of ensuring quite secure life in the country.
This problem does not have anything to do with inter-group redistribution; its actual solution should necessarily satisfy the requirement of all-national efficiency. But for such solution of this very complicated issue, Israeli politicians should have put maximum effort into searching some new non-trivial approach to it. However, they continued by inertia to act through standard simple diplomatic or forceful means which have been unsuccessfully used many times before. Maximum of attention was paid by the competing political forces of Israel to redistribution in the public’s consciousness of the opinion about the competitors’ guilt for not having solved the security problem. There is the same approach in policy, the norm of which is focus on redistribution, to any other problems requiring efficient all-national solutions. The main goal of politicians is not the best solution to such problems but the greatest and the soonest redistribution of the political capital in their favor in connection to these or those decisions. It should be emphasized that the desire to profit soonest without taking into account the probable losses in the future is typical not only of ordinary citizens but of the political elite as well.
Obviously, the discussed approach not always yields beneficial for the nation solutions. In the case of security it happens to be even harmful because constant exchange of accusations between the left and right camps maintains the split in the Israeli society. The internal dissidence regarding the external threat makes it even more dangerous. Therefore, the society assigns bigger and bigger importance to the security problem which allows to facilitate redistribution of guilt for its not being solved. [Apparently, the redistribution norm in policy strengthens the desire to gain the soonest short-term profit. Similarly to the “machination” redistribution policy and the “machinatorsip” of election campaigns, the mutual influence of which was mentioned above, strife for immediate gaining and the redistribution norm in policy also mutually facilitate each other. The difference is that in the first mutual influence, initially the reason was redistribution policy, whereas the “machinatorship” was the consequence; in the second mutual influence redistribution policy was initially a consequence, and not the reason. Thus, two chains of facilitation are working - a direct one: (desire to short-term gaining) -> (redistribution norm in policy) -> (“machinatorship” of election campaigns), and a reverse one: (“machinatorship” of election campaigns) -> (redistribution norm in policy) -> (desire to short-term gaining). I call the first chain direct as it reflects the initial cause-effect connections between its three components.]
Strife to get the soonest gain from redistribution of guilt for not ensuring security in Israel to a great extent stipulated an impulse for a more and more frequent change of the country’s government. Instead of conducting the next elections, as it is supposed to be, after four years, the term started in 1996 was shortened to three years. Only a year passed, and in June 2000 the Knesset accepted in the first reading a bill on new elections. In the end of 2000 the Prime Minister resigned, which evoked the new elections. Politicians presented this instability as a result of introducing direct elections of prime minister in 1996.
That decision was caused by the fact that the previous scheme of forming government and parliamentary majority discredited itself in the eyes of the public by numerous dirty incidents connected with enticing the deputies from one camp to another, open trading of politicians when dividing portfolios and agreeing on laws in the interests of narrow groups, unprincipled alliances of ideologically opposite parties when forming ruling coalitions, etc. However, that scheme without any contradiction manifested the normative orientation of policy first of all on inter-group redistribution. Direct election of an all-national leader structurally bore in itself the idea of the policy of all-national efficiency. Thus, this progressive structural innovation found itself in a certain contradiction with the regressive political norm, which certainly contributed to some extent to instability.
But instead of smoothening out the contradiction, outliving the regressive norm, the progressive innovation was cancelled - the members of the Knesset have not found (even not deeming it necessary to look for) a better decision than to return to the entirely stained, but convenient for their majority and without contradiction manifesting the redistribution norm in politics, scheme of forming the bodies of power, which they had to abandon only five years ago. By doing it, the people making political decisions in Israel made it even more evident that they are, on the one hand, incompetent and, on the other hand, care about their and their interested people’s well-being a lot more than about the well-being of the country.
Certainly, it is possible to arrange elections not once in four years, but once in three, or one and a half years, or even more often. It is possible to introduce and to abolish the changes of the scheme of forming the bodies of power once in five years. But it will make no critical change in the quality of governing the country because the factors determining the quality of the results of electing people to govern remain the same. These factors are: 1) the rules according to which the elections are organized; 2) the electors’ competence; 3) the quality of those from whom the choice is made.
3. TOWAFDS RATIONAL DECISION-MAKING
3.1. PROCEDURAL RATIONALITY
In order to reveal in a scientifically grounded way the main cause for the bad quality of the procedure of democratic election and to find a way to eliminate it, it is necessary to explain the principle of procedural rationality in decision-making. [The decision-making procedure is understood as a whole process from the beginning of considering a problem to a final working out of a decision ready for realization.] Special attention should be paid to the fact that the word rationality is used in different areas in very different meanings. For example, in everyday speech it is often used to designate certain traits of a personality, the notion of scientific rationality is widely spread; in psychoanalysis it has its specific meaning, etc. And even in one single sphere, as the discussed below decision-making, the term rationality may have more than one meaning. For instance, the notions of value and goal rationality introduced by M. Weber (1947) are considered classical. Further specification gives out subjective, bounded, satisfactory rationality, etc. (Simon, 1960). This paper deals with a relatively new procedural understanding of rationality in decision-making. I am going to use the term rationality only in this sense.
A decision is considered to be rational if the procedure of making it has been carried out correctly. As a rule, a rational procedure of analytical decision-making with difficult problems consists of the following phases of competent accumulating and processing information: 1) setting a problem; 2) generating decision variants; 3) evaluation of preference of the variants in all important aspects (if a problem situation is realized under conditions of the uncertainty of the future, the evaluation is started with predicting the consequences of accepting each of the variants); 4) choosing the most preferable decision variant.
This four-phase scheme of a rational procedure is deemed flexible in two respects.
First, an individual or a collective making a decision can return from the later phases to the initial ones if the data that appeared in the course of making a decision push to rethink the conclusions made before. (Which is the case in resolving complicated issues). Suppose in connection to the unexpected decision variant generated in the second phase it might seen feasible to verify the problem setting having returned for that purpose to the first phase. Or, for instance, getting in the third phase an unpleasant prognosis of the consequences of each decision variant might require turning again to the second phase for searching new variants or even to the first phase to modify viewing of a problem situation.
Second, this scheme in different spheres of decision-making for different classes of problems can manifest itself in various decision-making models. For instance, for making strategic decisions in management, in the decision-making science widely known models of subjective expected utility (Edwards, 1954), consecutive limited comparison (Lindblom, 1959), logical incrementalism (Quinn, 1978), as well as a number of their modifications and other less known models. In general, in decision science there have been developed both a general methodology and an extensive apparatus - numerous methods, techniques, etc. of conducting operations on accumulating, producing and processing information referring to different types of problems and phases of working out decisions. Possible sources of errors have been revealed, and ways of overcoming them have been found. Along with the representatives of decision science, different models of rational individual and collective decision-making procedures have been proposed by different schools of knowledge. For instance, in the USSR activity-organizational games designed by the Moscow Methodological Circle were very popular (Schedrovitsky & Kotelnikov, 1983). Generally speaking, the arsenal of human knowledge has a strong decision-making “technology” has been built up. Thus if a decision-making model is chosen adequately and all phases of the process of working out a decision are conducted without errors with the help of the existing methodology and apparatus, i.e. the decision is made “technologically” correctly, the latter is rational.
The idea of procedural rationality was developed by the outstanding decision scientists Nobel Prize winner H. Simon (1976), I. Janis and L. Mann (1977) et al. In the mid 70’s it got established in decision science because it not only provides an effective approach to working out a decision, but also (for the first time!) to evaluating the quality of a decision before starting to put it into practice. For this it is just necessary to evaluate the quality of the decision-making procedure. According to the idea, the high quality (rationality) of a decision with high probability is predetermined by the high technological quality of the decision-making procedure. This idea is the embodiment in the field of decision-making of a more general idea that long ago got established in the sphere of production, management, as well as in exact, natural and technical sciences: the high quality of a product (a manufactured article, a project, a research result) is predetermined by the high quality of the process of working out (manufacturing, projecting, researching) a product. Indeed, a decision is also a product that is worked out in the process (procedure) of decision-making.
It is clear that the area of effective application of rational procedures of persona, social, business, political, etc. decision-making is not limitless. Its limits are as obvious as those for technical projecting. If, say, a tractor is procedurally rationally designed, it will be a good project solution, but no procedural rationality will give decisive effect in designing, for instance, a time machine. The idea of procedural rationality is efficient when working out decisions in situations in which the means of achieving the sought goals can be found among the existing techniques and methods of actions or, if although there are no directly applicable techniques and methods, there are such that can be in an obvious way adjusted as means of achievement. Such are the majority of decision-making situations that people face. The procedurally rational approach, as a rule, loses effectiveness in very rare cases: in entirely creative problems - those the solution of which requires non-trivial searching activity, inventor’s revelations, etc.
In collective decision-making rational procedures are not very efficient also in situations when among the participants of decision-making exist insurmountable antagonist contradictions. It should be observed that such situations are very scarce. Quite often antagonist contradictions can be overcome by the right problem setting. For example, if a problem of increasing economic well-being is set as a redistribution one, among the participants of decision-making on redistribution there arise antagonist contradictions because the winning of one of them leads to the reduction of what remains for others. If the problem solution is searched in the increase of the common amount of goods with keeping the initial proportions of their distribution, when the sought solution is found, everyone will win.
3.2. RATIONALITY AND ADAPTATION
Unfortunately, there are psychological and cultural “stoppers” preventing those having at least one of them from procedurally rational decision-making. They are: functional fixedness (Birch & Rabinowitz, 1951); fixation (Scheerer, 1963); different biases: in representativeness (Nisbett & Ross, 1980), in availability (Taylor & Fiske, 1978), in framing a problem (Tversky & Kahneman, 1981) and in “anchoring” (Dodd & White, 1980); socialization in the culture of poverty (Lewis, 1966); assimilation of the Russia-Soviet subculture of decision-making (Savelzon, 1990, 1998). Meantime, the ‘technology’ of decision-making the application of which would contribute to procedurally rational decision-making, has been purposefully developed only since the middle of XX century, and its knowledge has not been widely spread not only in Israel and moreover in Israel, but in the West as well. Significant deviations from procedural rationality are characteristic of many American managers (Simon, 1987). And this is notwithstanding the fact that, on the one hand, decision-making is actually the essence of managerial activity (Simon, 1960), and, on the other hand, out of all areas of modern management scientific methods were applied to decision-making to a greater extent than to anything else (Duncan, 1990). Thus for an overwhelming majority of people it is natural to deviate from rational procedures in decision-making, and the understanding of the necessity of artificial elimination of these deviations is not big in the West, very small in Israel, and practically none in Russia.
The greatest deviations from procedural rationality are inherent in those who normally rely on intuitive decision-making. Models describing decision-making of this kind have been designed in cognitive psychology (Tversky & Kahneman, 1972, 1974) and in the sphere of artificial intelligence (Minsky, 1974).
They allow to understand the connection between intuitive and rational decision-making with adaptation. Both psychologists and AI professionals agree that intuitive decision-making mechanisms (either frames, according to the M. Minsky’s theory, or heuristics, in the theory of A. Tversky and D. Kahneman) are worked out with people in the process of their lives in their habitual environment. That is why only in this environment intuition can work well. As soon as the environment changes sharply (it can change due to radical transformation of the old environment, as in Russia, or as a result of transferring to a new environment, as with immigrants coming to Israel), the approved life experience often becomes irrelevant - problem situations are of a different nature; the familiar models of behavior turn out to be useless. Meanwhile, the abrupt change of the environment brings about a necessity to make numerous important decisions under uncertainty. In the flow of life challenges, the number of vital ones is bigger than before. If one reacts to them by the intuition formed in the previous environment, until new frames or heuristics corresponding to the new environment have been worked out, frequent mistakes will be made. (This happens to the overwhelming majority of people, whose intuitive decision-making prevails.) To refrain from making most vital decisions is not a way out either. In both cases there is a big risk to aggravate one’s own situation in the course of adaptation.
That is why psychologists share a widely spread opinion that for the success of individual adaptation in all fundamental (greatly important for life and activity) problems, it is preferable to switch from intuitive or partly intuitive to a purely intuitive mode of decision-making. [As noted in (Simon, 1976), when psychologists use the term “rational”, they usually mean procedural rationality.] A similar opinion regarding organizations got established in the management theory (Chandler, 1962; Hannan & Freeman, 1977; Aldrich, 1979; Dean & Sharfman, 1996) - when organizations are adapting to the changed conditions of existence, in order to be successful, it is preferable that fundamental strategic decisions be made procedurally rationally.
Thus for further presentation it is very important to note that procedural rationality is widely acknowledged as one of the main factors contributing to adaptation of individuals and human communities.
4. DEVIATIONS FROM RATIONALITY IN THE ELECTION PROCEDURE
4.1. PROCEDURE AS THE MAIN FACTOR DETERMINING QUALITY OF ELECTION OUTCOMES
The given further analysis of the election procedure as a procedure of people’s making a decision on forming the political management of a country allows to reveal the deep drawback inherent in it - total violation of rationality. In particular, low election campaigns have become unavoidable since the public's participation in decision-making is confined only to fulfilling its last fourth phase - choice, and at the first three phases the people, so-to-say, are held aside. Therefore, it is necessary to inform people about the variants of choice - the candidates - suggested to them, for which election campaigns are needed. Since participation in choice is assumed to be general, presentation of the variants also has to be such. For this to happen, it is impossible to do without the mass media and mass informing events - mass meetings, encounters with the electorate, etc. One can't help acknowledging their use for general presentation of candidates as legitimate with the existing procedure of democratic elections. However, when used for this purpose in Israel and especially, in Russia the media and the mass informing events are not restrained by more or less strict ethical norms of conducting pre-election propaganda, as it happens in the West. Therefore, within election technologies they become a tool of frantic manipulative influencing the public.
Along with the aforesaid procedural, there are two more negative causes due to which in the election campaigns in Israel and in Russia “machinatorship” means are so usable. One of them is the irrationality of the electors allowing being treated as "raw material" meant to be "processed" with election technologies. The other, craving for power and popularity. For the sake of them, politicians are ready for deception, slander, bribery and other machinations.
Each of those three negative causes relates to a sphere of one of three factors that determine the quality of the results of any (not necessarily political) choice. These factors are: 1) rules according to which the choice is organized; 2) the competence of those who are choosing (on condition that they are interested in the best possible choice); 3) the quality of those among whom the choice is made.
Obviously, a radical improvement of the quality of choice results is possible only provided that at least one of the aforementioned factors undergoes a radically positive change. In the case of choice as a part of political elections; such a positive change could be the elimination of some of those three negative causes. Without it, elections will still contribute to a great increase in the number of “machinators” and therefore redistribution “machinatorship” in policy.
This statement holds true not only for Israel and Russia. In the West, election campaigns are far from being free from machinations. There “machinatorship” Is just not so frantic as in Israel, and especially in Russia. The thing is that all the three negative causes stipulating it exist in the West too, but they are not so vividly expressed as in Israel and especially Russia. Therefore, in order to radically cleanse election campaigns from machinations, it is not sufficient only to smoothen out the acuteness of the negative causes in question; it is crucial to eliminate or repudiate them.
Clearly it is naive to hope for the elimination of the third negative cause - the unrestrained craving for power and popularity many people striving now to enter into politics have. This is a quite widely spread trait which always was, is, and will be inherent in some representatives of the human race. Regarding the second cause, the situation is not so hopeless. The deviations from rationality of citizens, as shown in my book, in principle lend themselves to correction; it requires much time, energy and means, though; whereas to eliminate the first cause is much easier - the existing election procedure can be simply substituted by a more rational one. Its outline is suggested in Paragraph 5. In case it is realized, the second and third negative causes will be practically repudiated - they will not be of great importance because they will simply not have a big field of action.
4.2. THE EXAMPLES: THE ELECTIONS OF 1996
The tasks to be solved by a rational procedure can be exposed after analyzing the deviations from rationality in the existing elections. As an object of such an analysis, let us take the procedures of electing a country’s leader in Israel and Russia. Such first direct elections were held both in Russia and Israel in 1996 (at the time of the presidential elections of 1991 Russia was not a country yet being a part of the USSR).
Obviously, no one even thought of explaining to people that before starting to make a decision so vital for Israel and Russia and so fateful for their current existence, it was necessary at first to perform the problem setting - clearly understand the problem situation. That is to say, in the given case - to outline the goals the achieving of which would become the leader’s task; to reveal the factors of the actualization of the goals as well as the possible methods of achieving them; and to work out criteria for evaluating the candidates and their programs (the first phase of decision-making). On the contrary, two leading political elites did everything possible to obscure the situation, explaining that it was confined to the choice between the rightists and the leftists. It is as if the treatment of a sick person started not with a scrupulous medical inspection and clearing up the diagnosis as well as the causes of the disease, but was exhausted by the choice imposed by the two powerful pharmaceutical firms, each of which offered its medicine for bringing down high fever. Neither of the leading elites was interested in disclosing this simple game - in the end, it was advantageous for both - in Israel and Russia, the rightists' candidate was chosen as the country’s leader with the leftists having numerical superiority over the rightists in the Parliament.
The second phase of decision-making - generating a set of decision variants to be considered - is very important. Apparently, this set will be good if in it there happens to be the best decision variant out of ever possible ones. Indeed, in order that the best variant (in this case - a candidate) is chosen, it has to be at least among those under consideration, when making a choice. But in order to satisfy the registration conditions of a candidate for the post of the country’s leader in Israel (fifty thousand signatures of the people or ten recommendations of the Knesset members) and in Russia (one million signatures), it is sufficient to either have the backing of a very influential political organization or considerable funding. And this, in general, is not connected to the presence of qualities and skills necessary for effective management of a country. Consequently, both the Russian and Israeli procedures of choosing the country's leader do not reliably provide a good or even satisfactory quality of the choice variants.
It is not by accident then that the merits of the candidates, in a common view, could have been much better. This was so clear that even with the winners, a favorite technique of their propagandistic campaigns was advertising allegedly criticizing positions of authoritative public figures who argued, pretending to be objective, "Yes, of course, Netanyahu (Yeltsin) has serious weak points, but Peres (Zyuganov) is much worse; he is just a disaster." In other words, voters were being convinced that from the bad and the even worse, one should choose the former.
In the concluding decision-making phases - predicting the consequences of choosing a certain candidate and their evaluation - the antagonistic parts of the elite pursued the same mutually beneficial tactics: they fooled the electors, convincing them that the two choice variants the public had at hand were leading to absolutely diverse courses of the country's development. But even the prediction of a patient's temperature is only partly determined by the properties of a certain possible febrifuge since the temperature is mostly affected by the development of the inflammation process. The prediction of the course of the disease itself is not connected in any way with the use of a certain medicine for taking down the temperature. That is to say, when a patient is told: "Take this medicine and you will recover", and a febrifuge is prescribed, he or she is just being fooled. That was actually done to the electors in Israel and Russia during the election campaigns in 1996.
It should be observed that such manipulation of the public opinion was beneficial particularly for the two main rivals, both of whom seemed busy (with righteous fight with the dangerous evil-doer) and distracted the electors from the so-called "third forces", as though notoriously weak and unable to compete with the main evil.
So the entirely fooled electors in Russia chose a seriously sick person who was in no condition to enter upon his presidential duties for about a year and then actually could not do his job in earnest. In Israel, they chose a man who was being cursed as a traitor by those who had been his most active adherents before the election. A true sign of the bad quality of the elected men is the fact that both B. Netanyahu and B. Yeltsin resigned their commission in 1999 although their term of office expired in the middle of 2000. The peak of modern democracy - direct elections of a country’s leader - in reality turned out to be a humiliating and wretched farce, being a blind choice (it is unclear with what purpose and by which criteria) from the bad and the even worse.
5. AN OUTLINE OF RATIONAL ELECTION PROCEDURES
5.1. ELECTIONS OF A COUNTRY'S LEADER
In accordance with the idea of procedural rationality, a high quality of a decision-making procedure with significant probability entails a high quality of a decision. A procedure that contains significant deviations from rationality may yield a good decision only accidentally. In 1996 both in Israel and in Russia, at the elections of a country’s leader such a highly rare happy accident did not happen. In the current crisis situation for these countries it is disastrous to take chances in such an important issue as elections. There is a necessity for a rational procedure of democratic elections, that is to say, such a procedure within which an entire people or its representatives would act correctly and efficiently at all phases of decision-making.
My idea of the procedure of electing a country’s leader (in Russia it can be also applied to electing heads of subjects of federation) remotely resembles the idea of the American Electoral College in its undistorted form, in which it was originally conceived. At that time, every College member was elected as an independent elector who expressed his personal judgment when making decision as to who the next president would be. Therefore, the mass election campaigns of candidates for the president’s post of the country were not necessary. Some time later, political parties appeared, and party lists were introduced, by which formally people voted for the candidates to be College members, and in fact - for the candidates for presidency. So, an elector today is a formal figure who, in summing up the results of the elections, simply personifies one voice in the Electoral College given in favor of a certain candidate for presidency.
At the start of American democracy, the Colleges, consisting of independent electors, elected the first presidents of the United States, remembered throughout history as great politicians whose activity predetermined the country’s well-being for decades ahead.
As I see it, the implementing the rational procedure of elections should be preceded by an introduction within which people get a comprehensive and clear explanation of its general structure as a procedure of all-national decision-making, as well as the purpose and essence of its phases. In addition to this, each phase starts with the specification of the details of its conducting, and on completing the phase, a conclusion is made in terms of what has been done within the general procedure and a further course of actions is outlined.
At the first phase of decision-making - problem setting - in this case the vision of the situation in the society and its goals should be outlined; also, the conditions and factors of realizing the goals, as well as possible methods of achieving them should be analyzed. It can be carried out in the course of special discussion in the mass media built up so as to make a maximal number of commentators, experts and, most important, ordinary people participate.
By the results of this discussion, a special Electoral College (see below) should select two to three dozen goals - most important general tasks for the development of the country and the necessary leader's traits frequently mentioned in the discussion. Next, they are brought forward at a referendum, and each citizen gets the right to mark in his or her ballot-paper, for instance, five of the tasks and five of the traits. A voter should have a possibility to include in the number of these “fives” both the objectives and traits that were not among those exposed in the referendum, having written them in their ballots. It makes sense to arrange such voting through the mail. On its completion the tasks and traits named, say, by at least a quarter of the referendum participants should be pointed out.
These tasks and traits should be considered to be the society's requirements for the general direction of the society's development and its future leader. The degree to which a choice variant meets these requirements will represent the criteria of the evaluation of candidates and their programs.
It should be noted that for the people's will to be fulfilled, indeed, it is much more important not who will be the country's leader, but what traits a leader required by the country at the moment will possess. "Who" is not more than a certain image created with the help of propagandistic technologies. Ordinary electors are not able to judge by such an image to what extent its bearer possesses the traits necessary for optimal management of the country. That is what I meant when I spoke above about “blind” election.
For this reason, in this decision-making problem, the first phase is the crucial one because it determines what sort of a leader is necessary for the country and where the latter should be led.
As for Phase 2 - generating possible decision variants - it is clear that the more variants there are under consideration, the more the probability that the best one will be among those being considered. Therefore, for candidate registration, maximally liberal reasonable conditions should be established. For instance, to consider it sufficient to present a program for the development of the country and a fixed number (not big - about ten-twenty) of references from the people who are ready publicly under oath to answer any (except intimate) questions about the candidate recommended by them, but who will be prohibited by law to occupy any governmental positions and to get benefits from the authorities during his or her time in the office. The author of a program can be a candidate himself or herself, either any individual or organization (in particular a political party) that will entrust the presentation of its program to the candidate selected by it. Each program can be presented only by one candidate, and every candidate is entitled to present only one program.
Rational realization of the next decision-making Phase 3, in the problem situation being considered, is impossible to carry out on the basis of direct participation of all citizens of the country. So, society should form in a democratic way an Electoral College out of one to two hundred people, in order to delegate to them the realization of Phase 3 (as well as summing up the aforementioned all-national discussion in the middle of Phase 1 - the selection of the most important general tasks of the development of the country and the necessary leader's traits to be brought forward at a referendum). The society’s participation in the elections at Phase 3 should be confined to presenting all its relevant informational and intellectual resources at the electors’ disposal, as well as observing and criticizing their activity that will be fully open.
A procedure of forming such a College should be designed so that it would consist of competent people who cannot profit from it in any other way but enjoying the well-being of the country they will live in after the election of a new leader. That is why it is imperative that the following clauses be included into the election law. A citizen does not have the right to be a College member (an elector) if he or she has personal or business relationships with any candidate, either any individual or organization whose program is presented by the candidate. The electors (and their close relatives) are prohibited from occupying any governmental positions or receiving any benefits from the authorities during the term of office of the leader whom they will elect. Incompetent or prejudiced actions on the part of the electors in the decision-making process are necessarily brought through the mass media to the public, for whom this process will be absolutely "transparent". It is necessary to activate mechanisms analogous to those used for preventing prejudice on the part of the citizens fulfilling the functions similar to the functions of the electors, for instance, of jury members in the American courts. These mechanisms should be made even more reliable and rigid. For example, to determine that offering and accepting bribes or mediation in such a deal is a grave crime that must entail capital punishment. Perhaps it will be necessary to establish some other conditions to maximally eliminate any possibility for those who will become the electors or referees of the future leader to be bribed or to get any profit from these roles for themselves or their close relatives - material good, raise in the social status, self-publicity, etc. Thus the election bill must be made so that it will leave for an elector or a referee as his or her only direct interest choosing a leader who will bring more benefit to the country and, consequently, to him or her as one of its ordinary citizens. The electors' (referees') indirect interest will be in that their choice (recommendations) of a really efficient leader will confirm their decision-making competence.
Both in Israeli and Russian societies there are well-known independent citizens with reputations of smart and honest people. Those of them who will not want to make a societal administrative career - scientists, journalists, businessmen, lawyers, consultants, etc. will become the most likely aspirants to be the electors. Their election campaigns should be restricted by a presentation of their autobiographic references, equal in volume, in the mass media. The authenticity of these references should afterwards be submitted to public discussion through the mass media. No posters, no agitators, no propagandistic mass meetings, etc. The future candidates as well as the individuals and the organizations (in particular, political parties) whose programs will be presented by the candidates are prohibited from participating in the campaign of the elections to the College; for instance, in speaking for or against someone from the aspirants to be an elector.
The elected College members are freed for several months from their regular jobs and, at the state's expense (but without material gain exceeding that paid for their everyday activity), under the conditions of extreme openness and publicity, they are busy for some period of time only with deep analysis and comparison of the programs and personal traits of the candidates to the post of the country’s leader, according to the criteria determined in the referendum. The Electoral College is provided with opportunities to invite independent experts for consultations and to retrieve necessary information from state agencies. All citizens of the country will be granted a possibility not only to observe but also to participate in the work of the College, sending their proposals or criticism to it (directly or through the mass media). The arrangement according to which once in several days, and maybe more often if a certain part of the voters need it, the College will have to openly go through its work will help people check into the work of the College.
Propaganda of candidates and of programs in the media (which, with the new election procedure, will have a much lower significance than today) is allowed only from the moment of their introduction into the College and up to the end of its work.
It is not relevant to describe here in detail the rational procedure of a multi-stage shortening of the candidate list. I would only note that at initial stages it can be accomplished in the candidates' absence; then the evaluations of a smaller and smaller number of remaining candidates should be carried out more and more in-depth. The supposed procedure is protected from losing worthy candidates. It ensures the choice of two best candidates selected by collective consent of a particular kind achievable with the help of a special method (Savelzon, 1984; Shye & Savelzon, 1994) intended for the comparisons of many alternatives by the set of qualitative criteria. A similar or a different rational procedure of the College’s making a decision will have to be established by law. It is also important that this procedure be for viewers sort of an interesting intellectual contest, the most significant and dramatic moments of which would necessarily be live transmitted and then would be repeated in a reduced variant in special night radio and TV programs.
The College finishes its work with presenting to the public brief descriptions of programs and personal qualities of two best candidates, and, most important, their distinct evaluations by the determined criteria with the grounding of why these very evaluations were made. Compulsory publication of these data in all the media during two weeks is conducted without being commented on. Two weeks after the end of the College’s work national elections take place in which two candidates are put to the vote.
Ideally, the College should determine finally the head of the country. However, a sharp leap toward the ideal seems hardly possible. The suggested procedure is of a transitional nature as the College’s activity, introducing new contents in principle, looks like a substitution for the first round in the traditional two-round election procedure.
Below there is a similar procedure for elections to the Knesset. Its instillation in Israel, as well as the procedure of Prime Minister elections, must be accompanied by the following legislative regulations. The elections are conducted in the middle of Prime Minister's term. Thus the nation is able to directly correct the political management of the country once in two years. A Knesset deputy does not have the right to occupy any positions outside the Knesset, and the Knesset does not have the right to launch Prime Minister elections before the appointed time unless an impeachment takes place. The Prime Minister appoints ministers, and the Knesset approves them, but is not empowered to make them retire.
5.2. PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS
The goals of renewing the procedure of elections to the Knesset are elimination of the negative sides of elections as in the case of electing a country's leader plus liquidation of what I suggest calling "percolating of dark horses" (mediocre politicians from middle and concluding sections of party lists, who, in contrast to the first numbers, are not familiar to the wide public even at the level of images). As a result, one does not even have the slightest idea of their abilities to lead parliamentary work.
The general scheme of the elections is the same as that for the Prime Minister: introduction - selecting electors - the all-national discussion of the goals of the society and personal traits of parliamentarians - voting on the goals and traits - presenting programs and citizens’ recommendations of the candidates (the lists) in the Electoral College - the demonstrated to the society work of the College on determining the candidates approved for voting - all national voting for this or that approved list.
A list is any group of people presenting a program (an outline of bills and budget of the country necessary for attaining the goals set by the society) and having references from adult citizens, as in the above-described procedure of electing a country's leader. On the contrary to the current law, a list is not necessarily (a) from a party, (b) in the number of 120 people (a minimal possible number, say, 10). Any five people from a list may be invited by the Electoral College for presenting their program and investigating their personal traits. Thus if a group announces a list, for example, including 40 people, the College may invite from it, say, # 9, 17, 23, 30 and 38. If even one of them is mediocre, the list will be failed.
The College determines the lists approved for voting in the number doubled compared to the number of the lists elected to the previous Knesset. That is to say, if, for instance, 13 lists were elected previously, for the next elections The College will approve 26. The right to be approved is necessarily given to the groups presenting the lists elected in the previous elections (such is considered to be a group including more than half members of any one list elected in the previous elections). If such a group takes advantage of this right, it will be obliged to give a report about pre-election promises and the activity of the list that it presents in the preceding term. So the College will 1) determine no less than half the candidates for voting ("new" lists), 2) evaluate all candidates (both "old" in case they show up, and "new") according to the criteria worked out by the society.
The results of the College's work:
- an enumeration of lists approved for voting in the order of diminishing of their quality (1 - the best, 2 - the next in quality and so forth);
- a concise characterization of the program and staff of every list (regarding the "old" list - also the characterization of its report) according to the criteria with the grounding of the assessment of the quality of the given list.
These results, during two weeks before the elections, are necessarily published by all media and are not subject to any commentaries. The groups at the elections are assigned not letters as now, but numbers according to the order worked out by the College. So if a voter trusts the College, he or she can vote for #1, not looking into the essence.
The number of the Knesset deputies is not fixed; only their maximal number - 120 - is established. Obviously the list, say, of 10 people can receive the votes of electors, for example, for 15 mandates. This excess will entail extracting five out of the maximal number of the Knesset deputies. And the same refers to all the lists that “exceeded”. There will be as many deputies in the Knesset as were elected. Fixation of the number the Parliament deputies makes sense only when the election is conducted in election districts. In such a case this number determines the number of election districts into which the country must be divided for holding elections. In the election by the party lists fixation of the number of candidates is counter-efficient. It is just one more obsolete form that is by habit accepted by people since nobody has urged them to think over its unfruitfulness.
I will illustrate this statement by the following example. Suppose a private employer announces a contest for 120 vacancies that require very high competence for efficient work. However, among thousands of candidates there are only 100 meeting the competence requirements. Is it efficient to hire over these 100 some other people incapable of doing what is required from them? I believe any sensible person will not find difficulty answering this question “no”. Otherwise, the employer will have to spend his funds on having useless employees. Worse than that, they will strongly interfere with the efficient work of those 100 competent ones.
Voters represent such a collective employer regarding parliamentarians. Apparently, only those who are competent can be allowed to approach very complicated and important work. There seems to be no guarantee that among those who would wish to be involved in political governing of Israel at any election there will be no less than 120 people quite competent for this most complicated and important work in the country. I think that the public does not pay attention to the obvious ineffectiveness of electing a fixed number of the Knesset deputies only because this fixation is a political norm that is just not discussed and is taken for granted.
Thus the proposed here procedure of the Knesset election will facilitate the effectiveness of politics also due to the non-fixedness of the elected deputies.
An analogous procedure may be suggested for elections to the Russian State Duma and the legislative assemblies of the subjects of Russian federation.
6. THE NEXT POSSIBLE STEPS OF RATIONALIZATION
The presented above idea of raising rationality is applicable to the procedure of holding referendums. Its innovated scheme can be built up similarly to the election scheme: introduction - electing “evaluators” - all-national discussion of the society’s requirements that have to be put to solving the most important problem discussed in a referendum - voting on selecting from the requirements list formed by the College of “evaluators” - organizations’ or people’s presentation of the decision variant to the College of “evaluators” - the demonstrated to the society work of the College on evaluating the variants and determining those that will be allowed for voting - general voting for this or that variant. The subject and schedule of referendums could be agreed on once in two years at the election of the head of the country and the parliament. Thus regular "rationalized" elections and referendums would build up a new institution - a system of all-national rational decision making on most crucial issues.
Nowadays, thanks to the development of communication and decision-making “technology”, it became possible to solve vital issues in the life of a country with direct participation of the entire people. I mean participation in the whole decision-making process, and not at its final phase - choosing the most preferable decision variant - as in modern direct, or participatory democracy. Its advocates call for transferring this phase of making most important social decisions to people. In the shape direct democracy now exists in Swiss and some states of the USA, where the most urgent issues of the society are solved at referendums, this form of democracy, as shown, for instance, in (Frey & Pommerehne, 1995; Beedham, 1996; Feld & Savioz, 1997), is more efficient than traditional representative democracy. However, a referendum is a form of final choice, and not of working out a decision. Its current procedure, as well as the election procedure, does not presuppose the people’s participation in the three decision-making phases preceding the choosing. So the conventional referendum procedure, on the one hand, due to the deviations from rationality does not provide a high probability of getting a quality decision, and, on the other hand, opens wide possibilities for machinations. Obviously, the Israeli and Russian political elites with their norms of political activity will not miss these possibilities and the instilling of direct democracy in Israel and Russia will not be efficient. For direct democracy to become an effective instrument of efficient policy in these countries, it is necessary to raise radically the rationality of the referendums' procedure.
It is clear that before implementing the proposed election and referendum procedures, they should be thoroughly mastered on model examples. Most attention should be paid to everything associated with the Electoral College and College of “evaluators”. All-national concord will depend on how much the rank-and-file citizens will be involved in observation and control of the College's activity and how authoritative its evaluation will be for them (apparantly, the more degree of all-national concord with a decision, the more all-national efficiency of the decision).
The first experience of mastering the proposed procedure model was received in June 2001 in an educational-health compound in Kfar Saba during a problem business game dedicated to designing a strategy of developing the Israeli association "Women in Science and Education". Thirty people participated in the game, and it was conducted during a weekend according to the scheme corresponding to the one outlined in the previous Section. Soon after the beginning of the game the participants chose a College of “evaluators” of five people. By the second day of the game three variants of the development strategy had been generated. Their evaluation was carried out by the College, the other participants being able to observe its work and offer their ideas through a special mediator. At the same time they were free to choose any other way to spend time, taking advantage of the various facilities for rest available at the place. During many hours of the College's work the number of observers was constantly changing, but there never were less than two-thirds of the participants that were not included in the College. About 50% of the observers applied with their remarks through a mediator to the College. On completing its work everyone unanimously voted for the variant of the association development strategy that the College considered to be the best.
It is reasonable to further master the procedure in the course of bigger and bigger scale simulation business games. In my opinion, at least one more simulation business game is needed with constant participation of more than one hundred people during several days. The next stage of modeling should be a procedure which would have no less than a thousand people as participants-observers and which would last no less than several weeks. This can be done within a contest for the best project of resolving some socially significant problem. It makes sense to organize such a contest in accordance with the scheme proposed in the previous Section for an all-national rational decision making procedure. I have a clear idea of how, with the help of a certain system of encouragement and awards to attract to participation in this contest a) those possessing the traits and status that members of an all-national College are supposed to have; b) specialists who will act as experts; c) ordinary citizens as observers. At the last stage of modeling the scale of the contest should be increased to all-national, mastering the issues of presenting the procedure in the Internet and transmitting it on the radio and television.
As follows from Section 3.1, the rationality of the election and referendum procedures will to a great extent predetermine making within them high quality all-national decisions. It will thereby directly contribute to the policy of all-national effectiveness. No less important, though, is the indirect contribution to this policy that the conducting of all-national rational decision-making procedures is supposed to exert through its positive influence on voters. It will exert positive influence in two directions, as seen from the experience of implementing the rational procedures of collective decision making.
First, with multiple participation in such procedures, as a rule, explanations on their structure and course raise the competence of the participants in the field of decision making. Therefore, after participating in a number of "rationalized" elections and referendums, voters will, most probably, be more competent in decision making.
Second, in the process of the rationally carried out collective decision making, its participants' individualistic orientation normally diminishes, yielding to an orientation for the common good. This can be worded closer to the subject of the present paper on efficient policy in the following way: an individual arrives at the conclusion that getting immediate gain for him/herself at the expense of others is less advantageous in the long run than achieving a situation when everybody wins. This does not mean, as noted by B. Rotstein (1996) that self-centered intentions of an individual are substituted by purely altruistic urges; rather, he/she will reorient his/her interests in accordance with collective ones. This conclusion of political science research (Goodin, 1986; Ostrom, 1990; Offe& Preuss, 1991; Miller, 1993) agrees with the general results of experimental research of group dynamics. The latter show that if people participate in the work of an institutional structure of collective decision making, their strife for cooperation and the degree of solidarity of conduct grow (Dawes et al., 1977; Frochlich & Oppenheimer, 1992).
Evidently, the efficiency of policy as a norm can get established in a society only if both the elite and rank-and-file citizens have it as a guideline. For the latter it first of all means change of the behavioral orientation described in the previous paragraph.
It should be emphasized that raising the rationality of procedures (in short rationalization) of elections and referendums are just the elements, very important though, of the transition to efficient all-national policy. In order to transfer to it fully, in my opinion, conducting other measures for rationalization of decision making in the executive and legislative powers will be necessary (Savelzon, 2000). [In particular, these measures are supposed to influence the elite in the same two ways as the ones described above for the public, namely, to radically raise competence in decision making and, having smoothened the purely individualistic orientation, to strengthen orientation at the common good.] In its turn, all this rationalization of democracy is only one of the areas, very important though, of a set of rationalistic transformations directed at the radical improvement of the adaptive abilities of the society as a whole and its members. Other areas of these transformations outlined in (Savelzon, 2000) are behavioral culture and education.
7. HOW TO START RATIONALISTIC TRANSFORMATIONS OF POLITICS?
In Section 2 it was revealed that radical raising of the efficiency of policy in Russia and Israel means changing the irrelevant norm existing in the political life of these countries (fundamental orientation of policy at machination redistribution). Clearly, it is possible to establish a new norm only after a fundamental renewal of the political establishment. It is impossible to do this within the existing election procedure. Only the power itself can make a formal decision to change the procedure. Meanwhile, as noted above, there has been formed a vicious circle, in which redistribution policy, the composition of the ruling elite and the current election procedure contribute to maintaining and reproduction of each other. The people presently at power will substitute the election procedure by a much more rational one only if they are urged to do so by voters. This can happen only when the wide masses of voters master the described earlier three-part chain of cause-effect dependencies: 1) they will see a possibility for the society to come out of the infringed condition of disadaptation in the transition from redistribution policy to efficient one, 2) they will associate this transition with the appropriate renewal of the political elite and 3) they will understand that it is necessary to radically rationalize the election procedure.
I have a big experience of presenting the material presented in this article before the listeners with different levels of education and professional knowledge. Normally, one-and-a-half/two-hour explanations are enough for a person with higher education but without special knowledge in political science to understand the major drawbacks of redistribution policy and the conventional election procedure. The overwhelming majority of the listeners, as a rule, share the opinion of the necessity of radical raising the efficiency of policy. A substantial part of the listeners accepts the logic of the formed above cause-effect dependencies and treats positively the proposed election procedure. This very element of the set of rationalistic transformations, in contrast to its other less obvious constituents is easily perceived by the public notwithstanding the inherent in many people deviations from rationality and that procedural rationality does not practically present any value for anybody. Thus understanding and putting into practice the idea of renewing the political elite could in the future contribute to understanding and putting into practice the whole set of rationalistic transformations of policy, and then of the behavioral culture and education.
I have no doubt that if the media paid some attention to the presentation and discussion of the aforesaid idea, it would find wide acceptance in the society. However, without support of a certain force interested in the discussion of this subject, the media are unlikely to embark on its covering for the reason mentioned in Section 2. For two years I have been sending out to different publishing houses the articles in which the described election procedure is presented, but none of them has been published yet.
My attempts to get Israeli politicians interested in this idea has not been successful either. As a result of my participation in pre-election campaigns of 1996 and 1999, I have a good personal relations with a number of the Knesset deputies. I tried to convince those of them in whom I could sense an ability for efficient policy to unfold a campaign of the propaganda and instilling the policy of efficiency. Interestingly, none of my interlocutors showed curiosity interest in the basics I started the conversation with, that is to say, in the analysis of which vital problems of the countries and why might find their solution as a result of redirecting the policy from machination redistribution (the normative character of which they admitted) to all-national efficiency. Everyone tried to turn the conversation so that they could understand as soon as possible which political capital they personally can gain or lose if they embark on the proposed campaign. I explained that conducting this campaign embodies the efficient policy in the sphere of the political activity itself. This is a good chance to go beyond the frame of struggle with competitors for redistribution of the voices of those two thirds of the citizens who come to the election and support this or that party. The campaign will give a possibility to gain support of the three percent of electors who voted against all candidates and many more interested in policy, but who, on the one hand, treated negatively the politicians balloted, and, on the other hand, had no wish to express this attitude through demonstrative voting against all and for this reason just did not come to the election site.
My proposal, however, required, first, to set aside the norm of political struggle, which consists in that politicians compete with each other in playing on viewpoints established in public opinion. Second, instead of this primitive one-stage game to start a two-stage process - at first to invest big resources in the development of in the public opinion of a new outlook in order to later, without usual rivalry, to reap the fruit of this development. That is to say, to set aside the described in Section 2 the inherent in politicians inclination to short-term gaining in favor of the activity directed at a comparatively long-term perspective. But to decide to do what was required to perform as first and second would mean to stop being a normal professional politician, and this happened to be impossible for the deputies I conversed with.
I believe if there were accepted a norm in policy that would require from politicians all-national efficiency, part of the present political elite (probably my interlocutors-deputies too) would meet these requirements. However, judging by my Israeli experience, it is not worth counting on some not outstanding high-rank politician (outstanding ones are just lacking in the Israeli political elite) will dare put big resources into the changing of the irrelevant norm of political life. I do not have a clear idea of personalities in the Russian establishment, but it looks as not promising as in the Israeli one.
Apparently, for conducting the aforesaid two-stage process a specially aimed at this objective social-political organization is needed. An initiative group of scientists and social activists, members of the Committee for the ideology of the Congress of the Russian language communities and organizations. is involved in planning creation and activity of such an organization in Israel.
At the first stage of the process it seems to have two major parts - enlightenment in decision-making and propaganda of the transition from redistribution to efficient all-national policy. The tools of this activity may be publishing in the internet and participation in the most mass internet political discussions, lectures on the “technology” of decision-making designed and approved according to the procedures described in Section 5; contests based on the internet on solving most important social problems built similarly to rational referendums, the procedure of which is outlined above, etc.
Due to the limitedness of the resources enlightenment and propaganda are planned to be conducted first among those who are apt to master some of the three links of the chain of cause-effect dependencies: 1) new repatriates going through the difficulties of disadaptation; 2) politically active citizens having a negative attitude toward the whole ruling elite of the country and 3) scientific, technical and business management intelligentsia that, thanks to being familiar with procedural rationality in their professional spheres, is better prepared to accept this idea in social-political context.
The first stage of the process should continue until the idea of radical raising of the efficiency of policy gets at least minimum electoral chances. In Israel with its wide spread of the Internet and low electoral barrier of 1,5%, transition from the first stage to the second can start 2-3 years after starting the process. During the transition period between the stages a party will be established, and in connection with this, to the two initial constituents of the process one more is added - political activity on development of the given party and preparation of a vast complex of projects of bills on rationalization of the political sphere of the country with the purpose of transformation of redistribution policy into efficient one. The party will participate in the election according to the existing procedure, declaring that one of its main objectives is legislative removal of this procedure by a rational one (a complete program of the party will reflect the aforementioned complex of bills and undertakings on rationalization of the behavioral culture and education).
The second stage of the process will start after the party gets into the Knesset. This will help in a practical way to bring up legislative initiatives and to begin execution of the planned undertakings as well as to use much bigger scaled possibilities for rationalistic enlightenment and propaganda of the transition to efficient policy and of other transformations aimed at radical increase of adaptive ability of the society as a whole and its separate parts.
I hope that with the development of the process in the Russian community of Israel, an initiative group similar to the Israeli one will emerge in Russia, and an analogous process will be initiated there. It seems that in such a way it is possible to approach meeting the urgent need of the Israeli and Russian society for coming out of their oppressing condition of disadaptation.
8. THE EXPECTED EFFECT
The instilling of the afore-discussed procedures will be in itself a manifestation of efficient policy since, first, having made mass election campaigns inappropriate, it will save the huge funds and information resources usually wasted on them. Second, it will give an even greater increase in social well-being - there will be no more sponsors of election campaigns, which means that the elected politicians will not be obligated to pay them from the state’s pocket after the election.
I believe the proposed innovations of the election procedures will contribute to the following positive changes in politics.
The present harmful alteration of the societal functions of parties (in Russia not only political parties but also the so-called “party of power”) will turn back. Parties will turn more and more into champions of new ideas and will less and less act as tools of redistribution of political power and well-being used by some or other cliques of the ruling elite. Parties will lose the role of the necessary trampoline, without which the ascent to the summit of society governing is impossible now. To reach this summit, it will not be required to claim such a trampoline either through many years of intra-party intrigues or by means of mobilizing huge money, i.e. to be either a patient intriguer or a rich person, or a celebrity.
Politics will stop being a sphere of activity attracting mainly individuals obsessed with the unrestrained craving for power and popularity, for the sake of which they are ready for deception, slander, bribery and even dirtier things. Among those who will go into politics there will be a lot of decent, talented, patriotic people, who do not do it now because, first of all, it looks disgusting to them due to their decency; secondly, it does not promise a possibility either to advance to party leaders or to win elections due to their fastidiousness in means and impossibility of mobilizing huge funds. Certainly, they will also be interested in power and public fame; however, mainly it will be the power that can be used for the good of the whole society and the fame when people see in them efficient statesmen. It is hardly possible that the instilling of the described above procedures would immediately bring some ideal altruists to govern the country, but it will show a way to honest, able and patriotic people. They can be seen in real life; for instance, I have them among the people I know, and I am sure that some of them would enthusiastically embark on reorienting policy from redistribution to all-national efficiency.
Therefore, I am sure even at the very beginning of the new election procedure's functioning, at the disposal of the College of competent and unbiased electors, there will surely be good variants of choice. Consequently, it will suggest to the wide public a choice from the good and very good. In such a case probable incompetence of the voters will not be of big importance. That is to say, elimination of the irrationality of the procedure will, to a great extent, repudiate the rest two negative causes stipulating the bad choice (low "quality" of the overwhelming majority of both those out of whom one has to choose and those who choose).
Thus, raising the rationality of election procedures, from the very first election, will contribute to conceptual enrichment of politics, its ethical cleansing and to the influx of efficient governors into it. In such a way the establishment of a new norm in the political life of Israel and Russia (radical orientation of policy at all-national effectiveness) will be initiated.
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