Pragmatism and Political Crisis Management
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Pragmatism and Political Crisis Management

Principle and Practical Rationality During the Financial Crisis

Christopher Ansell and Martin Bartenberger

Crisis management has become one of the core challenges facing governments, but successful crisis response depends on effective public leadership. Building on insights from Pragmatist philosophy, this deeply nuanced book provides guidance and direction for public leaders tackling the most challenging tasks of the 21st century.
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Chapter 6: The rescue of the investment bank Bear Stearns

Christopher Ansell and Martin Bartenberger


This chapter provides a systematic analysis of the Bear Stearns case in terms of decision making and meaning making. Our analysis begins with a brief explanation of the main ideological principle from which Bush and Paulson departed: the doctrine of moral hazard. However, we find the main strategic crisis leaders in this case - including President George W. Bush and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, who were the most predisposed to uphold this doctrine - modeled Pragmatist political crisis management behavior in this phase of the crisis. With respect to decision making, their crisis leadership exhibited anti-dualism, fallibilism, experimentation and deliberation; with respect to meaning making, they exhibited anti-dualism and fallibilism, but not experimentation or deliberation.

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