In comparative politics, the units of analysis are usually countries. For many variables, this does not raise any particular measurement problems, because they can easily be aggregated at the country level. For other variables, however, measurement at the country level is a much more severe problem. The prevailing decision mode in a country is perhaps the most conspicuous case. In the last ten to fifteen years, this variable has gained key importance in several theories, most prominently in the theories of consciationalism and corporatism. Yet, these theories are plagued by perennial measurement problems. As an illustration, we use the case of Switzerland, but our argument should apply to other countries as well.
* University of Lausanne and Department of Political Science, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, respectively. We acknowledge financial support from the Swiss National Science Foundation.