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Reflection in the Shadow of Blame: When Do Politicians Appoint Commissions of Inquiry?

  • Raanan Sulitzeanu-Kenan

Commissions of inquiry play an important role in the aftermath of crisis, by serving as instruments of accountability and policy learning. Yet crises also involve a high-stake game of political survival, in which accountability and learning pose a serious threat to incumbent politicians. The political decision of whether to appoint a commission of inquiry after a crisis thus provides a unique prism for studying the intense conflict between politics, accountability and policy learning. Using data from the United Kingdom, this study develops and tests a choice model for this political decision. The results show that the political decision to appoint inquiries into public crises is strongly influenced by short-term blame avoidance considerations, media salience and government popularity.

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1 Boin, Arjen, ‘t Hart, Paul, Stern, Eric and Sundelius, Bengt, The Politics of Crisis Management: Understanding Public Leadership When It Matters Most (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005); Boin, Arjen, Hart, Paul ‘t and McConnell, Allan, eds, Governing After Crisis: The Politics of Investigation, Accountability and Learning (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008); Rt. Hon Lord Justice Clarke, Thames Safety Inquiry – Final Report, Presented to Parliament by the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions by Command of Her Majesty (January 2000, Cm 4558, HMSO), p. 7; Elliott, Dominic and McGuinness, Martina, ‘Public Inquiry: Panacea or Placebo?’ Journal of Theoretical Politics, 12 (2000), 113124; Howe, Geoffrey, ‘The Management of Public Inquiries’, Journal of Theoretical Politics, 12 (2000), 113124; Polidano, Charles, ‘An Exocet in a Red Box: Parliamentary Accountability in the Sandline Affair’, Journal of Theoretical Politics, 12 (2000), 113124; Public Administration Select Committee, House of Commons, Government by Inquiry: First Report of Session 2004–5, Vol. 1 (February 3, HC-51-I, 2005).

2 Weaver, Kent R., ‘The Politics of Blame Avoidance’, Journal of Public Policy, 6 (1986), 371398.

3 Boin, et al. , The Politics of Crisis Management.

4 Boin, et al. , The Politics of Crisis Management; Boin, Arjen, Hart, Paul ‘t and McConnell, Allan, ‘Conclusion: The Politics of Crisis Exploitation’, in Boin, McConnell and Hart, eds, Governing After Crisis, pp. 285316.

5 Randomly drawn from the entire set of 620 non-inquired issues identified for the research period.

6 Boin, Arjen and ’t Hart, Paul A, ‘Public Leadership in Times of Crisis: Mission Impossible?’, Public Administration Review, 63 (2003), 544553; Boin et al., The Politics of Crisis Management; Maor, Moshe, ‘Feeling the Heat? Anticorruption Mechanisms in Comparative Prespective’, Governance: An International Journal of Policy and Administration, 17 (2004), 128; Moynihan, Donald P., ‘Learning under Uncertainty: Networks in Crisis Management’, Public Administration Review, 68 (2008), 350365.

7 Jenkins, Simon, ‘A tragedy of errors’, The Times, 2 April 2002; McLean, Iain and Johnes, Martin, ‘Regulation Run Mad: The Board of Trade and the Loss of the Titanic’, Public Administration, 78 (2000), 729749; Parker, Charles F. and Dekker, Sander, ‘September 11 and Post Crisis Investigation: Exploring the Role and Impact of the 9/11 Commission’ in Boin, McConnell and ’t Hart, eds, Governing After Crisis, pp. 255284; Woodhouse, Diana, ‘Matrix Churchill: A Case Study in Judicial Inquiries’, Parliamentary Affairs, 48 (1995), 2439.

8 Public Administration Select Committee, Government by Inquiry.

9 Clarke, Thames Safety Inquiry – Final Report, p. 8; Howe, ‘The Management of Public Inquiries’; Maclean, Mavis, ‘How Does an Inquiry Inquire? A Brief Note on the Working Methods of the Bristol Royal Infirmary Inquiry’, Journal of Law and Society, 28 (2001), 590601; Salmon Commission of Tribunals of Inquiry (Cmnd. 3121, 1966); Thompson, Brian, ‘Conclusion: Judges as Trouble-Shooters’, Parliamentary Affairs, 50 (1997), 182189; Woodhouse, ‘Matrix Churchill’.

10 Sulitzeanu-Kenan, Raanan, ‘If They Get It Right: An Experimental Test of the Effects of the Appointment and Reports of UK Public Inquiries’, Public Administration, 84 (2006): 623653. Conditions 5 and 6 are meant to exclude policy advice commissions (see Wheare, Kenneth C., Government by Committee (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1955), pp. 4344; and Howe, , ‘The Management of Public Inquiries’, p. 294). Sulitzeanu-Kenan’s definition includes a seventh criterion – ‘that the inquiry is held in public’. This criterion was relaxed in this study for several reasons. A number of non-public independent inquiries were appointed in response to major events in recent British political history, and some have consequently taken an important place on the public agenda. Indeed, many accounts of public inquiries in the United Kingdom include ‘private’ ones, usually without acknowledging the distinction, and sometimes explicitly, as in Annex 1 of the 2005 Public Administration Select Committee which includes some non-public inquiries in its comprehensive list of ‘public inquiries’ since 1921. It is expected that the decision to appoint an independent non-public inquiry will share a considerable degree of the attributes of the decision to appoint a public one. Omitting the former decisions from the analysis would unduly reduce the number of cases (limited as it is), and coding them as ‘zero’ investigative response is likely to bias the results.

11 That is, a government formed by a different party, e.g., events that took place under the Major (Conservative) government are ‘historical’ when addressed by the Blair (Labour) government, yet events that took place under Thatcher (Conservative) are not ‘historical’ when addressed by the Major government.

12 Clarke, Thames Safety Inquiry; Howe, ‘The Management of Public Inquiries’; Mclean, ‘How Does an Inquiry Inquire?’; Salmon, , Tribunals of Inquiry; Segal, Ze’ev, ‘Tribunals of Inquiry: A British Invention Ignored in Britain’, Public Law 1984), 206214; Thompson, ‘Conclusion: Judges as Trouble-Shooters’; Woodhouse, ‘Matrix Churchill’.

13 Boin, Arjen, ‘Learning from Crisis: NASA and the Challenger Disaster’, in Boin, McConnell and 't Hart, eds, Governing After Crisis, pp. 232254; Bovens, Mark, 't Hart, Paul, Dekker, Sander and Verheuvel, Gerdien, ‘The Politics of Blame Avoidance: Defensive Tactics in a Dutch Crime-Fighting Fiasco’, in H. Anheier, ed., When Things Go Wrong (Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Sage, 1999), pp. 123148; Brändström, Annika and Kuipers, Sanneke, ‘From “Normal Incidents” to Political Crises: Understanding the Selective Politicization of Policy Failures’, Government and Opposition, 38 (2003), 279305; Drewry, Gavin, ‘Judicial Inquiries and Public Reassurance’, Public Law (1996), pp. 368383; Kremnitzer, Mordechai, ‘The Landau Commission Report – Was the Security Service Subordinated to the Law or the Law to the 'Needs' of Security?’, Israel Law Review, 23 (1989), 216279; McLean, Iain and Johnes, Martin, Aberfan: Government & Disaster (Cardiff: Welsh Academic Press, 2000); McLean and Johnes, ‘Regulation Run Mad’; Parker and Dekker, ‘September 11 and Post Crisis Investigation’; Polidano, ‘An Exocet in a Red Box’; Schwartz, Robert, and McConnell, Allan, ‘The Walkerton Water Tragedy and the Jerusalem Banquet Hall Collapse: Regulatory Failure and Policy Change’, in Boin, McConnell and 't Hart, eds, Governing After Crisis, pp. 208231; Staelraeve, Sofie and Hart, Paul ‘t, ‘Dutroux and Dioxin: Crisis Investigations, Elite Accountability and Institutional Reform in Belgium, in Boin, McConnell and 't Hart, eds, Governing After Crisis, pp. 148182; Winetrobe, Barry K., ‘Inquiries after Scott: The Return of the Tribunal of Inquiry’, Public Law (1997), 1831.

14 As Boin et al. explicitly acknowledge: Boin, et al. , ‘Conclusion’, pp. 287288.

15 Geddes, Barbara, ‘How the Cases You Choose Affect the Answers You Get: Selection Bias in Comparative Politics’, Political Analysis, 2 (1990), 131150; King, Gary, Keohane, Robert O. and Sidney Verba, Designing Social Inquiry: Scientific Inference in Qualitative Research (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1994), p. 129.

16 Tribunals of Inquiry (Evidence) Act 1921, Inquiries Act 2005.

17 Council on Tribunals 1996, Public Administration Select Committee, Government by Inquiry, p. 66.

18 At the time of writing these lines, the most recent formal document on this matter is the 2005 Inquiries Act, in which Section 1(1) states only that “A Minister may cause an inquiry to be held under this Act in relation to a case where it appears to him that: (a) particular events have caused, or are capable of causing, public concern, or (b) there is public concern that particular events may have occurred.

19 Brown, Michael, ‘Iain Duncan Smith has missed an open goal, but he has one more chance’, Independent, 2 September 2003; Hunt, John, ‘Determined effort to suppress Burgess and Maclean affair’, Financial Times, 2 January 1986; Parker and Dekker, ‘September 11 and Post Crisis Investigation’; Public Administration Select Committee, Government by Inquiry, p. 9.

20 Boin, et al. , The Politics of Crisis Management, pp. 99105; Boven, et al. , ‘The Politics of Blame Avoidance’, p. 128; Brändström and Kuipers, ‘From “Normal Incidents” to Political Crises’; Drewry, Gavin, ‘Judges and Political Inquiries: Harnessing a Myth?’, Political Studies, 23 (1975), 4961; Flinders, Mathew, The Politics of Accountability in the Modern State. (Burlington, Vt.: Ashgate, 2001), p. 165; Lijphart, Arend, The Politics of Accommodation, 2nd edn (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1975); Lipsky, Michael and Olson, David J., Commission Politics: The Processing of Racial Crisis in America (New Brunswich, N.J.: Transaction Books, 1977), pp. 443444; Woodhouse, , ‘Matrix Churchill’, p. 25.

21 Bovens, et al. , ‘The Politics of Blame Avoidance’; Brändström and Kuipers, ‘From “Normal Incidents” to Political Crises’; Lijphart, , The Politics of Accommodation; Lipsky and Olson, Commission Politics; Woodhouse, , ‘Matrix Churchill’; Public Administration Select Committee, Government by Inquiry, p. 9.

22 Sulitzeanu-Kenan, Raanan, ‘Scything the Grass: Agenda Setting Consequences of Appointing Public Inquiries in the UK – A Longitudinal Analysis’, Policy & Politics, 35 (2007), 629650; Hood, Christopher, Jennings, Will, Dixon, Ruth, Hogwood, Brian and Beeston, Craig, ‘Testing Times: Exploring Staged Responses and the Impact of Blame Management Strategies in Two Exam Fiasco Cases’, European Journal of Political Research, 48 (2009), 695722.

23 Elliott, and McGuinness, , ‘Public Inquiry: Panacea or Placebo?’, see also Fortune, Joyce and Peters, Geoff, Learning from Failure (Chichester Sussex: John Wiley, 1995).

24 In addition, it has been argued that the appointment of an inquiry serves to ‘block’ other investigative procedures – e.g., of parliamentary committees or criminal proceedings – as a result of rules and conventions governing conflicts of institutional investigative authority and freedom of speech, and particularly of the press (e.g., sub judice): Elliot, and McGuinness, , ‘Public Inquiry’, p. 21; Flinders, , The Politics of Accountability in the Modern State, p. 164; Kremnitzer, ‘The Landau Commission Report’; Polidano, ‘An Exocet in a Red Box’.

25 Tsebelis, George, Nested Games: Rational Choice in Comparative Perspective (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990), p. 93.

26 Former Deputy Prime Minister Lord Heseltine in his testimony before the British Public Administration Select Committee, Public Administration Select Committee, Government by Inquiry, p. 9; See also Brown, , ‘Iain Duncan Smith has missed an open goal’, p. 14; Parker, and Dekker, , ‘September 11 and Post Crisis Investigation’.

27 Jenkins, , ‘A tragedy of errors’; McLean and Johnes, Aberfan; Woodhouse, ‘Matrix Churchill’.

28 As quoted by Hunt, , ‘Determined effort to suppress Burgess and Maclean affair’.

29 Weaver, , ‘The Politics of Blame Avoidance’, p. 372.

30 Weaver, , ‘The Politics of Blame Avoidance’, p. 380; see also Arnold, Douglas R., The Logic of Congressional Action (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1990).

31 For a review of this literature, see Soroka, Stuart N., ‘Good News and Bad News: Asymmetric Responses to Economic Information’, Journal of Politics, 68 (2006), 372375. For the psychological basis of this social phenomenon, see Tversky, Amos and Kahneman, Daniel, ‘The Framing of Decisions and the Psychology of Choice’, Science, 211 (1981), 453.

32 In the fields of procedural and legislative choices in the US Congress: Weaver, ‘The Politics of Blame Avoidance’; Arnold, The Logic of Congressional Action; for the delegation in politics and bureaucracy: Fiorina, Morris P., ‘Legislative Choice of Regulatory Forms: Legal Process or Administrative Process?’, Public Choice, 39 (1982), 3366; Ellis, Richard J., Presidential Lightning Rods: The Politics of Blame Avoidance (Kansas: University of Kansas Press, 1994); Hood, Christopher, ‘The Risk Game and the Blame Game’, Government and Opposition, 37 (2002), 1537; for welfare policy changes: Pierson, Paul, ‘The New Politics of the Welfare State’, World Politics, 48 (1996), 143179; Ross, Fiona, ‘“Beyond Left and Right”: The New Partisan Politics of Welfare’, Governance, 13 (2000), 155183; and for risk regulation: Twight, Charlotte, ‘From Claiming Credit to Avoiding Blame: The Evolution of Congressional Strategy for Asbestos Management’, Journal of Public Policy, 11 (1991), 153186; Hood, Christopher, Rothstein, Henry and Baldwin, Robert, The Government of Risk (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001). Another strand of studies has concentrated on the activities of office holders when faced with a critical audience: Bovens, et al. , ‘The Politics of Blame Avoidance’; Brändström and Kuipers, ‘From “Normal Incidents” to Political Crises’; and their effectiveness in mitigating blame: McGraw, Kathleen M., ‘Managing Blame: An Experimental Test of the Effects of Political Accounts’, American Political Science Review, 85 (1991), 11331157.

33 Arceneaux, Kevin, ‘The Conditional Impact of Blame Attribution on the Relationship between Economic Adversity and Turnout’, Political Research Quarterly, 56 (2003), 6371; Javeline, Debra, ‘The Role of Blame in Collective Action: Evidence from Russia’, American Political Science Review, 97 (2003), 107121; Lau, Richard R. and Sears, David O., ‘Cognitive Links between Economic Grievances and Political Responses’, Political Behavior, 3 (1981), 279301; Peffley, Mark, ‘The Voter as Juror: Attribution Responsibility for Economic Conditions’, in Heinz Eulau and Michael S. Lewis-Beck, eds, Economic Conditions and Electoral Outcomes: The United States and Western Europe (New York: Agathon, 1985), pp. 187206; Peffley, Mark and Williams, John T., ‘Attributing Presidential Responsibility for National Economics Problems’, American Politics Quarterly, 13 (1985), 393425; Rudolph, Thomas J. and Grant, Tobin, ‘An Attributional Model of Economic Voting: Evidence from the 2000 Presidential Election’, Political Research Quarterly, 55 (2002), 805823; Rudolph, Thomas J., ‘Who's Responsible for the Economy? The Formation and Consequences of Responsibility Attribution’, American Journal of Political Science, 47 (2003), 698713; Stein, Robert M., ‘Economic Voting for Governor and U.S. Senator: The Electoral Consequences of Federalism’, Journal of Politics, 52 (1990), 2953.

34 One exception is Hood, et al. , ‘Testing Times’.

35 Justifications ‘deny some or any measure of offensiveness in the act for which the individual admits responsibility’ ( McGraw, Kathleen M., ‘Managing Blame: An Experimental Test of the Effects of Political Accounts’, American Political Science Review, 85 (1991), 11331157, p. 1136.

36 Weaver, ‘The Politics of Blame Avoidance’; for a typology of blame avoidance strategy, see Hood, Christopher, ‘The Risk Game and the Blame Game’, Government and Opposition, 37 (2002), 1537.

37 Frederick, Shane, Loewenstein, George and O'Donoghue, Ted, ‘Time Discounting and Time Preference: A Critical Review’, Journal of Economic Literature, 40 (2002), 351401, p. 351.

38 Camerer, Colin F. and Loewenstein, George, ‘Behavioral Economics: Past, Present, Future’, in Colin F. Camerer, George Loewenstein and Mathew Rabin, eds, Advances in Behavioral Economics (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2003), pp. 352; Frederick et al., ‘Time Discounting and Time Preference’.

39 Thaler, Richard H., ‘Some Empirical Evidence on Dynamic Inconsistency’, Economics Letters, 8 (1981), 201207; Drazen Prelec and George Loewenstein, ‘Decision Making over Time and under Uncertainty: A Common Approach’, Management Science, 37 (1991), 770786.

40 Frederick, et al. , ‘Time Discounting and Time Preference’, pp. 361362.

41 Alesina, Alberto, Cohen, Gerald and Roubini, Nouriel, ‘Macroeconomic Policy and Elections in OECD Democracies’, Economics and Politics, 4 (1992), 130; Drazen, Allan, ‘The Political Business Cycle After 25 Years’, NBER Macroeconomic Annual (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2000), pp. 75117; Nordhaus, William D., ‘The Political Business Cycle’, Review of Economic Studies, 42 (1975), 169190.

42 Weingast, Barry R., Shepsle, Kenneth A. and Johnsen, Christopher, ‘The Political Economy of Benefits and Costs: A Neoclassical Approach to Distributive Politics’, Journal of Political Economy, 89 (1981), 642664.

43 For example, Shepsle et al. describe the 1991 pay raise bill in the US Senate, which was passed by building a coalition of senators that did not include most of those who faced re-election in 1992 ( Shepsle, Kenneth A., Dickson, Eric S. and Van Houweling, Robert P., ‘Bargaining in Legislatures with Overlapping Generations of Politicians’ (unpublished paper, Harvard University, Department of Government, 2004)).

44 These include: government popularity; indicator variables for the identity of the prime minister; and an indicator variable for issues that have previously been on the agenda as inquiry-issues.

45 The broadsheets were selected based on the availability in the Lexis-Nexis database in different years: January–July 1984: Financial Times (the only period for which only one newspaper was used); August 1984 – June 1985: Financial Times and Guardian; July 1985 – December 1988: Guardian and The Times; 1989 – 2003: The Times and Independent.

46 The identification of an ‘inquiry’ followed the six criteria adopted from Sulitzeanu-Kenan, ‘If They Get it Right’, p. 5. A similar method was employed by Dewan, Torun and Dowding, Keith, ‘The Corrective Effect of Ministerial Resignations on Government Popularity’, American Journal of Political Science, 49 (2005), 4655; and Dowding, Keith and Kang, Won Taek, ‘Ministerial Resignations 1945–97’, Public Administration, 76 (1998), 411429, for their studies of ministerial resignations.

47 Mahoney, James and Goertz, Gary, ‘The Possibility Principle: Choosing Negative Cases in Comparative Research’, American Political Science Review, 98 (2004), 653669.

48 For example, the 1972 ‘Bloody Sunday’ incident, which indeed had a second inquiry; and the 1989 Hillsborough disaster, which did not receive a second inquiry.

49 Variations in the number of non-inquired issues are visually evident, yet no significant differences were found between election and non-election periods, between prime ministers, and between government terms.

50 King, Gary and Zeng, Langche, ‘Logistic Regression in Rare Event Data’, Political Analysis, 6 (2001), 137163, p. 142; Lilienfeld, David E. and Stolley, Paul D., Foundations of Epidemiology, 3rd edn (New York: Oxford University Press, 1994), p. 229.

51 Lilienfeld, and Stolley, , Foundations of Epidemiology, p. 228; Schulz, Kenneth F. and Grimes, David A., ‘Case-Control Studies: Research in Reverse’, The Lancet, 359 (2002), 431434, p. 432.

52 King, and Zeng, , ‘Logistic Regression in Rare Event Data’, p. 144.

53 The original coding instructions included four categories. The first two – ‘private individuals or corporations’ and ‘local authorities’ were merged into one category – ‘remote blame’ (see coding instruction in Appendix 1).

54 Treating the coding as nominal data resulted in Krippendorff’s α = 0.6292, well below the lower limit of the 95 per cent confidence interval (0.7026), providing support to the coders’ ordinal conceptions. See Hayes, Andrew F. and Krippendorff, Klaus, ‘Answering the Call for a Standard Reliability Measure for Coding Data’, Communication Methods and Measures, 1 (2007), 7789.

55 Even when a specific event is asked about, the question rarely appears more than once.

56 Rogers, Everett M. and Dearing, James W., ‘Agenda-Setting Research: Where Has It Been, Where Is It Going?’ in Communication Yearbook 11 (Newbury Park, Calif.: Sage, 1988), pp. 555594; Soroka, Stuart N., ‘Issue Attributes and Agenda-Setting by Media, the Public, and Policymakers in Canada’, International Journal of Public Opinion Research, 14 (2002), 264285.

57 This measure is a simplified index of media salience, after pre-tests have suggested that the use of a more complex index, which included the number of words per article and placement in the newspaper added very little information (5 per cent).

58 Comparing the media salience of twenty inquiry issues between the Independent and The Times (averaged) to the Daily Mail (including the Sunday editions of all three newspapers) yielded a strong and significant correlation: r = 0.807, p < 0.001.

59 For example, in the Dunblane shooting of 1996, and following the death of Dr David Kelly in 2003.

60 For another use of (more distant) future conditions as a predictor of current behaviour, see Smith, Alastair, Election Timing (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), p. 113.

61 Sulitzeanu-Kenan, , ‘Scything the Grass’; Hood et al., ‘Testing Times’.

62 Smith, , Election Timing, pp. 91, 137, 181.

63 Boin, et al. , The Politics of Crisis Management.

64 With low salience, the association was insignificant, and it is only at higher salience levels, a positive relationship is reported.

65 The research period is almost equally divided among the three prime ministers: Thatcher, seven years; Major, 6.5 years; and Blair, 6.5 years.

66 Baron, , Thinking and Deciding, p. 468.

67 Bazerman, Max H., Judgment in Managerial Decision Making, 3rd edn (Hoboken, N.J.: Wiley, 1994), pp. 8687.

68 Additional political variables were included in early analyses (see below), yet were omitted from the analysis reported here: overall time-trend, government term, and early/late term of a prime minister.

69 Using the corrected regression constant based on the fraction of inquiries in the population (τ = 0.066) ( King, and Zeng, , ‘Logistic Regression in Rare Event Data’), and for median media salience (3.25), modal election period (0), mean electoral support (−0.25), modal prime minister (Major), and modal previous refusal (0).

70 Following a similar method, when holding blame attribution at its modal – remote blame.

71 King, and Zeng, , ‘Logistic Regression in Rare Event Data’.

72 Harcup, Tony and O'Neill, Deirdre, ‘What Is News? Galtung and Ruge Revisited’, Journalism Studies, 2 (2002), 261280.

73 The ‘casualty × previous refusal’ interaction term was significant (p < 0.001).

74 Sobel, M.E. , ‘Asymptotic Confidence Intervals for Indirect Effects in Structural Equation models’, in S. Leinhart, ed., Sociological Methodology (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass), pp. 290312.

75 For this analysis the ‘Interactive Calculation Tool for Mediation Tests’ (Preacher and Leonardelli) was used (see Regression coefficients and standard errors were provided by linear regressions for the association between casualty number and media salience; and between casualty number, media salience and P(I), for ‘first instances’ cases only (n = 93).

76 Mahoney, and Goertz, , ‘The Possibility Principle’.

77 Borrowing the terminology of Maor, ‘Feeling the Heat?’

78 Gove, Michael, ‘The question for Hutton is, do we need his inquiry at all?’ The Times, 12 August 2003.

79 Salmon, Tribunals of Inquiry; Drewry, Gavin, ‘Judicial Inquiries and Public Reassurance’, Public Law, Autumn (1996), 368383, p. 369; Flinders, , The Politics of Accountability, p. 160.

80 Jenkins, , ‘A Tragedy of Errors’; McLean and Johnes, Aberfan; McLean and Johnes, ‘Regulation Run Mad’; Woodhouse, ‘Matrix Churchill’.

81 Gill, Kerry, ‘Lockerbie ‘warning’ produced’, The Times, 15 March 1989; Cohen, Nick, ‘The Lockerbie disaster: Channon accused of lying over Lockerbie alert’, Independent, 15 March 1989.

82 Birkland, Thomas A., ‘Learning and Policy Improvement After Crisis’, American Behavioral Scientists, 48 (2004), 341364; Boin, et al. , The Politics of Crisis Management; Wildavsky, Aharon B., Speaking Truth to Power: The Art and Craft of Policy Analysis (New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction, 1984).

83 Boin, and Hart, ’t, ‘Public Leadership in Times of Crisis’; Boin, et al. , The Politics of Crisis Management; Maor, ‘Feeling the Heat?’; Moynihan, ‘Learning under Uncertainty’.

* Department of Political Science and Federmann School of Public Policy, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem (email: ). An earlier version of this article was presented at the Annual Meeting of the European Group of Public Administration, Madrid, 2007. The author thanks Eitan Alimi, Daphna Canetti-Nisim, Jonathan Cohen, Keith Dowding, Christopher Hood, Will Jennings, Orit Kedar, Bernhard Kittel, David Levi-Faur, Micha Mandel, Moshe Maor, Allan McConnell, Dan Miodownik, Martin Lodge, Iain McLean, Gideon Rahat, Robert Schwartz, Ira Sharkansky, Tamir Sheafer, Paul ‘t Hart, Yariv Tsfati, Pieter Vanhuysse and anonymous referees for providing comments on earlier versions of this article, and is also grateful to Katie Best and Jonathan Sullivan for their research assistance.

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