RSIS Luncheon Seminar by Ms Amanda Huan, Senior Analyst, Associate Dean’s Office, RSIS; and Professor Pascal Vennesson, Professor of Political Science, RSIS
Intuitive Expert or Overconfident Risk Taker? General Douglas MacArthur and the Incheon Landing Decision
About the Lecture
Can we trust the operational intuitions of generals? The overconfidence model and the recognition-primed decision model, two of the most influential perspectives about judgement and decisions in cognitive psychology, provide contrasting answers to this question. On one side stand the proponents of the overconfidence model who acknowledge skill and expertise, but present human cognitive performance as commonly flawed. On the other side of this discussion stand the advocates of the recognition-primed decision model who recognize that professionals occasionally make mistakes, but tend to stress the marvels of successful expert performance. The goal of this article is to assess which of these two models provide better insights into the impact of command decisions on operational effectiveness. To do so, we apply them to a historical case-study: general Douglas MacArthur’s decision to land at Inchon (June-September 1950).
About the Speakers
Amanda Huan is a Senior Analyst in the Associate Deans’ Office at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS) of Nanyang Technological University (NTU). Before joining RSIS, she was a consultant at a private consultancy firm where she dealt mainly with research and advisory work for non-profit organisations such as Enactus Singapore and the Singapore Chinese Orchestra. Her research interests include political psychology, organisational behaviour, international organisations, reputation management, and communication. Amanda possesses a BA in Psychology/Criminology from Adams State College and an undergraduate honours degree in Communication Studies and Psychology from NTU. She completed her MSc in International Relations at RSIS.
Pascal Vennesson is Professor of Political Science at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University. His research and teaching lie at the intersection of the fields of international relations and strategic studies. Before joining RSIS, he held the Chair “Security in Europe”, at the European University Institute, Robert Schuman Center for Advanced Studies. He also taught “Strategy and Policy” for ten years at The Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS)-Bologna Center and at the College of Europe. He is the author, co-author and editor of six books and his refereed articles have been notably published in Armed Forces and Society, International Relations, Journal of Strategic Studies, Review of International Studies, Revue Française de Science Politique (French Political Science Review) and Security Studies. He is a member of the editorial boards of Revue Française de Science Politique (French Political Science Review), Security Studies, Armed Forces and Society and the European Journal of International Security. Professor Vennesson was a fellow at Stanford University’s Center for International Security and Arms Control, at Ohio State University’s Mershon Center and a Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (National Center for Scientific Research) fellow at Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, John F. Kennedy School of Government. He received his MA from the University Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne and his Ph.D. from Sciences-Po Paris.