Constructing time in foreign policy-making: Brexit's timing entrepreneurs, malcontemps and apparatchiks

Andrew Hom, Ryan K. Beasley

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Temporal considerations play a role in many models of foreign policy analysis, particularly those focused on decision-making processes. While time features prominently as a background feature against which sequence, cadence and psychological consequence are measured, little attention has been given to how foreign policy agents actively construct their temporal environments. We propose that different foreign policy-making actors develop distinct relationships with time, and that variations in these relationships can help account for the ways in which ‘events’ are transformed into routine practices, change opportunities or full-blown foreign policy crises. We advance a novel conception of time in foreign policy-making through our development of timing theory and the linguistic constructions of ‘time’ by foreign policy actors. We propose a typology of timing agency, which highlights the impact of these orientations on decision-making processes as well as the characteristics of foreign policy behaviours. Using the case of Brexit, we elaborate differences in actors' temporal orientations and show how such differences impact the making of foreign policy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)267-285
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Affairs
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 8 Mar 2021


  • Brexit foreign policy
  • Critical theory
  • Culture and politics/IR
  • Foreign policy
  • Foreign policy analysis
  • International relations theory


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