In Europe, the management of severe, cross-border crises is shared increasingly among actors and institutions at local, national, and supranational governance levels. The supranational political system of the European Union (EU) allows for substantial delegation of collective powers for public policymaking—and that delegation extends to crisis-management-related policies. Those policies and the crisis management “capacities” they lead to, however, are diverse and fragmented. They span the EU’s institutions, cover multiple sectors, and reflect different degrees of EU legal competence. The European Commission and its agencies house and manage most crisis-related policies, while the Council of Ministers of the European Union has its own capacities and provides a degree of political direction. EU agencies, and the European External Action Service (since 2010), contain yet more crisis-management-related capacities. These developments have grown mainly through crisis-driven expansion, albeit in an incremental and dispersed way, followed by consolidation. Scholars from the fields of international relations, public administration, and security studies have been slow to identify these developments. New research is needed on the subtle dynamics driving policy growth, the effectiveness and efficiency of these arrangements, and the comparative dimension with other regional crisis management systems in the world.
Arya Honarmand and Mark Rhinard
David Patrick Houghton
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.