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An Analytical Framework for Postmortems of European Foreign Policy: Should Decision-makers have been Surprised?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)197-215
Number of pages19
JournalIntelligence and National Security
Issue number2
Early online date1 Jan 2020
Publication statusPublished - 23 Feb 2020

King's Authors


This paper develops a novel theoretical framework for the conduct of postmortems after major foreign policy surprises for the European Union and its member states. It proposes a taxonomy of surprise which elucidates how officials or organisations experience both sudden and slower-burning threats. It argues that foreign policy surprises in European settings require a closer look at who was surprised, in what way, and when. The paper outlines six vital performance criteria and three key attenuating factors, allowing us to better ground judgements about foreign policy performance as well as to advance realistic recommendations on how to improve.

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