Strategic Decision Analysis with Mrt Model

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Table of Contents I. II. III. IV. V. VI.
Introduction .................................................................................................................. 2 Decision-process analysis using the MRT model .............................................................. 2 Identification of relevant cognitive biases within the decision-process ............................ 8 Discussion on information technology’s possible roles in the case ................................. 10 Conclusion ................................................................................................................... 10 References................................................................................................................... 11

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I.

Introduction The Cuban Missile Crisis has been one of the most formidable political-military incidents in the world’s history. It is described as a seminal event that “symbolizes a central, if only thinkable, fact about our existence” (Allison, 1969, p. 689). The crisis is the closest that the world came to the outbreak of a nuclear war between the two world superpower of the time, the United States and the Soviet Union. For the period of thirteen days of October 1962, the leaders of both sides spent every single moment to tackle the situation when there was a higher-than-ever probability of 100 million Americans, over 100 million Russians, and millions of Europeans being killed. Given the probability of calamity which Anatoly Gribkov - Soviet General and Army Chief of Operations - estimated that “Nuclear catastrophe was hanging by a thread … and we weren’t counting days or hours, but minutes”, (Wiersma & Larson, 1997, p. 3) our escape seems like magic. It would be irrational, however, to call on magic when it comes to politics or military. The nuclear war being averted, the ultimate consequence of this event should be counted on the strategic decision of the two men, President John F. Kennedy and Premier Nikita Khrushchev. The process of making such decision has become a magnet for many researchers including political scientists, historians, students of government and participants in governance. There are many analyses of this issue from various perspectives relying on different models such as Rational Policy, Organizational Process and Bureaucratic Politics. As a case in point, the purpose of this paper is to present the understanding of the strategic decision-process made by the key players in this crisis. Nevertheless, due to the limits of time and space, the focus is on the U.S. point of view only. In other words, this paper will elucidate the decision-process used by President Kennedy during the Cuban Missile Crisis by applying the MRT model. As prevalent features in human reasoning, certain cognitive biases during the process are also identified. Furthermore, the roles that information technology could have played in the crisis are discussed at the end of the paper as well.

II.

Decision-process analysis using the MRT model Let’s start with a brief introduction of the MRT model. It is a set of theories proposed by a group of authors, namely Henry Mintzberg, Duru Raisinghani, and André Théorêt, which suggests a basic structure of “unstructured” decision processes. “This structure is described in terms of 12 elements: 3 central phases, 3 sets of supporting routines, and 6 sets of dynamic factors” (Mintzberg, Raisinghani, & Théorêt, 1976, p. 246). These elements will be investigated in turn along with the corresponding evidences from the Cuban Missile Crisis. The investigation will be summarized by a visualized model. 2

1. Central phase 1: The identification Phase This phase consists of two routines: decision recognition, where opportunities, problems, and crises are acknowledged and provoke decision activity; and diagnosis, in which the actor or the decision maker seeks to perceive the factors that stimulate the process and determine cause-effect relationships...
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