This article focuses on governments’ attempts to intensify crises for political gain, and identifies a series of unnecessary crisis management responses that follow distinctive policy overreaction styles. It is based on the premise that political executives at times face incentives to shape voters’ perceptions regarding the timing and scope of a crisis, even though no crisis actually exists. Analysing Trump’s response towards the so-called ‘invasion’ by a caravan of asylum seekers, the article identifies three distinctive crisis overreaction policy styles: communicating in absolutes, performing in absolutes, and challenging the rule of law. Each of these overreaction styles includes a specific set of tool preferences; an active means of implementation; and an impositional manner of execution. By highlighting the potential advantages of marrying the concept of crisis to the ideas of policy overreaction and policy style, this article makes an important contribution to our understanding of the politics of crisis management.
This article distinguishes between disproportionate policy response by error (bounded rationality) and disproportionate response by choice, and advances a further distinction of such choices between two disproportionate policy options, namely, rhetoric and doctrine. Probing the ‘plausibility’ of these terms, the article presents pertinent illustrations drawn from the military, financial and environmental domains in the US, Britain, Israel, Australia, Singapore and the European Union. These illustrations show that, during pre-crisis and in-crisis periods, both options can be purposefully designed to signal policymakers’ preference and/or to deliver the disproportionate responses in pursuit of policy goals.