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date: 06 October 2022

Foundations of Responsive Crisis Management: Institutional Design and Informationlocked

Foundations of Responsive Crisis Management: Institutional Design and Informationlocked

  • Kees BoersmaKees BoersmaDepartment of Organization Sciences, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
  •  and Jeroen WolbersJeroen WolbersInstitute for Security and Global Affairs, Leiden University


The requirements for effective and responsive crisis management have developed significantly in the face of proliferating transboundary crises and rising societal demands during the information revolution. As crises disturb more and more societal strata and rapidly span across different types of networks, traditional crisis structures need to become more open and responsive. To deal with these contemporary requirements of crisis management, renewed institutional designs are needed. Institutional designs reflect the shared rules, norms, and belief systems that are established as guidelines for social behavior, which shape the nature of decision making, coordination, and information-sharing processes. In practical terms, the call for more engaged crisis management cumulates in the process of developing situational awareness (SA) through the common operational picture (COP) in traditional institutional designs like the Incident Command System (ICS). Two opposing crisis information management doctrines can be defined in this process: the information warehouse and the trading zone. The dominant warehouse doctrine presupposes that all crisis information can be gathered, synthesized, and disseminated in a uniform and unambiguous way. The trading zone doctrine contrasts this assumption by stressing the importance of negotiation through which the meaning, value, and consequences of crisis information is debated and assessed. Institutional designs based on the trading zone doctrine offer a foundation for a more responsive and societally engaged form of crisis management, as they are more sensitive to the (social) stratification and competing demands that are often found in contemporary transboundary crises.


  • Governance/Political Change
  • Policy, Administration, and Bureaucracy

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