Each year Political Studies makes an award for the best article published in the journal and this award is named the Harrison Prize in honour of Wilfrid Harrison, who was Chair of the Political Studies Association from 1963 - 1964 and the first editor of Political Studies.

The Editors are delighted to announce that the Harrison Prize for 2013 has been awarded to Andrew Hindmoor (University of Sheffield) and Allan McConnell (University of Sydney) for their article ‘Why Didn’t They See It Coming? Warning Signs, Acceptable Risks and the Global Financial Crisis’, which was published in Political Studies, 61 (3), pp. 543-560


The reasons for selecting Hindmoor and McConnell’s paper for this award are made clear in the judges’ citation, which reads as follows:

“This is an original and fresh article that links into a number of significant trends of political analysis, including the conceptualization of political failure, risk theory, political psychology, and the interchange between economic and political phenomena. The global financial crisis is often perceived as something unexpected and sudden, and the failure to ‘see it coming’ or flag warning signs is often highlighted as an embarrassment both for politicians and for academics. However, the subsequent debate often suffers from possible hindsight biases. It is common to see ‘backward mapping’ arguments where individuals claim that the crisis should have been foreseeable, based on detailing specific features that seem prominent and obvious with the benefit of hindsight. The authors provide a counter-narrative, based on a forward mapping perspective, which tries to highlight the context prior to the crisis and the information available to actors. They argue that even the warning signals that may seem obvious in retrospect actually were ambiguous and fragmented when interpreted in the ideational environment prevailing at the time.

The main merit of the article is to infuse those various topics with the normality of ambiguity and the perennial difficulty of interpreting empirical evidence conclusively, let alone objectively. It calls into question some standard assumptions about rational decision making and the cultural values sustaining it and intelligently unpacks a number of prevalent approaches among policy makers as well as political scientists that created false expectations of crisis prevention and/or management. The article constitutes a welcome and thoughtful contribution to ‘contingency theory’ in fields where contingency is all too often an unwelcome guest and ignored.”


The Judges for the Harrison Prize this year were Sarah Birch (University of Glasgow), Michael Freeden (University of Nottingham), Kristian Skrede Gleditsch (University of Essex) and Roger Scully (Cardiff University), and the Editors of the journal would like to thank them for their generous support in reading all the articles in the volume and selecting the winner.

We are aware that this is an onerous task, not least because of the difficulty in choosing between several strong contenders, and we agree with our judges that even those articles which have not been selected as the winner but nonetheless made it through to the final stage ought to be mentioned.

Harrison Prize 2013 Runners Up

We offer our congratulations to the following authors for their near-miss in winning the Harrison Prize, namely Pablo Simón, for his article 'The Combined Effect of Decentralisation and Personalism on the Nationalisation of Party Systems' (April 2013 Special Issue); Dietlind Stolle and Allison Harell, for their paper 'Social Capital and Ethno-racial Diversity: Learning to Trust in an Immigrant Society' (March 2013); and Francisco Panizza and Romina Miorelli for 'Taking Discourse Seriously: Discursive Institutionalism and Post-Structuralist Discourse Theory', published in June 2013.

Virtual Issue

Members can read the Harrison Prize winning articles over the last decade by downloading the Harrison Prize Virtual Issue at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/journal/10.1111/(ISSN)1467-9248/homepage/VirtualIssuesPage.html.