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date: 18 February 2020

Summary and Keywords

Crisis decision-making is characterized by a profound degree of uncertainty, the centralization of power, increased communications and argumentation both within and between organizations, management and eventual resolution of the problem, and a period of lesson-drawing. Deeper understanding of different cases of crisis decision-making is enhanced by using contrasting theoretical “cuts.” There are four major approaches to crisis decision-making: the rational actor approach, the cognitive perspective, the bureaucratic-organizational perspective, and the domestic politics approach. Three case studies—the Cuban missile crisis, the Yom Kippur crisis, and the Iran hostage crisis—can be examined from the vantage point of each of these four theoretical perspectives, as each theory adds something valuable to our overall understanding of the nature of crisis itself.

Keywords: rational actor approach, cognitive perspective, bureaucratic-organizational perspective, domestic politics approach, Cuban missile crisis, Yom Kippur War, Iran hostage crisis, crisis analysis

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