Decision Making During National Security Crisis: The Case of the JFK Administration

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Virginia Tech

Decision-making during crises is an important task that many elected officials face during their time in office. This thesis seeks to identify principles that make up a sound policy decision-making process and may lead to more positive outcomes. The analysis here is a comparative case study of three national security crises that faced the John F. Kennedy administration: the Bay of Pigs, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the Vietnam conflict. Each case is examined for the presence of indicators of groupthink. I hypothesize that the relative absence of groupthink is related to a positive outcome. That hypothesis is examined by reviewing each case; the cases that contained higher levels of the indicators of groupthink tended to have a poorer quality process than those with less evidence of groupthink.

Decision-making, Kennedy administration, Crisis, National security, Bay of Pigs, Cuban Missile Crisis, Vietnam