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date: 28 June 2022

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter comments on Graham Allison’s 1971 book, Essence of Decision: Explaining the Cuban Missile Crisis, a classic that occupies an important place in disciplines ranging from political science and public administration to international relations and business studies. Allison offers a critical analysis of governmental decision-making during the Cuban missile crisis, one of the most challenging crises of the Cold War, through three conceptual lenses: rational actor, organizational behavior, and governmental politics. After a brief introduction on Allison and the broader context in which his work took shape, the chapter considers the continuing relevance of Essence of Decision for scholars in foreign policy and public administration. More specifically, it discusses Allison’s rational actor, organizational behavior, and governmental behavior models and how each of them identifies different explanatory factors for the decisions that were taken regarding the crisis.

Keywords: Graham Allison, Essence of Decision, public administration, governmental decision-making, Cuban missile crisis, rational actor, organizational behavior, governmental politics, foreign policy, governmental behavior

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