Historians, Social Scientists, and Crisis Management

Journal Article

Because diplomatic historians Gilbert and Lauren are enthusiastic and effective exponents of interdisciplinary collaboration, it is fitting that they should assess the current state of theory on international crises. This essay evaluates four major charges in their critique: conceptual confusion, theoretical difficulties, prescriptive inadequacies, and historical insensitivity. The essay supports their premise that communication and collaboration between diplomatic historians and social scientists are essential if we are to develop empirical, policy-relevant theories of crisis. But it concludes that their interesting essay is flawed in two respects. Gilbert and Lauren aim a rather poorly calibrated shotgun at a large and diverse literature, whereas the situation would appear to call for carefully aimed rifle shots; thus, some of their shots hit the mark, but many others fly rather wide of the target. They have also missed an excellent opportunity to instruct us in ways that crisis research might be improved.

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Holsti, OR

Published Date

  • December 1, 1980

Volume / Issue

  • 24 / 4

Start / End Page

  • 665 - 682