Luis Leandro Schenoni and Sean Braniff

Doctoral Student Affiliate Luis Schenoni, former Doctoral Student Affiliate Sean Braniff, and coauthor Jorge Battaglino (University Torcuato Di Tella) will receive the 2020 award for Best Article on Defense, Public Security and Democracy by the Latin American Studies Association (LASA) for their article “Was the Malvinas/Falklands a Diversionary War? A Prospect Theory Reinterpretation of Argentina’s Decline,” published last fall with Security Studies, a leading journal in its homonymous field.

The article uses newly declassified evidence from a report on the key decisions leading to the war to argue that Argentina did not take the island due to miscalculation regarding the reaction of the United Kingdom, nor did it as a way to divert the attention of the public and generate a rally ‘round the flag affect. The alternative explanation proposed by the authors is that the Argentine junta was affected by the psychological biases that often affect human beings when they suffer repeated and tangible losses, leading them to adopt risky strategies with low chances of success. The article argues that these biases prevailed because the decision-making group was too small and isolated from debiasing influences, leading Argentina to a predictable defeat.

The article has so far achieved great influence, particularly due to its methodological innovations in the use of counterfactual analysis. Kellogg Faculty Fellow Gary Goertz and James Mahoney (Northwestern University) , two scholars who developed the set-theoretic counterfactual method applied in the piece, have used the article as an example in their qualitative method courses.