Cock-up Theory

Discipline: Political Science

Anonymous sceptical view of history.

History is frequently to be explained by the ordinary errors and inadequacies of people, especially powerful people, rather than by any grand theory.

The theory expresses a common skepticism towards both intellectual and personal pretension, and the view that behind most great men there is a far more mundane mixture of idleness and incompetence.

A developed application of this theory towards warfare suggests that there are three kinds of military events: cock-ups, routs, and national disasters.

Also see: contingency theory

Source:
Norman F Dixon, On the Psychology of Military Incompetence (London, 1976)

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