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Article

Explicitly considering major critical infrastructure disruptions from the perspective of crisis/crisis management enables policymakers, analysts, and researchers to draw inspiration from an extensive multidisciplinary literature. Furthermore, this approach takes infrastructure failures or disruptions, and provides crucial institutional, economic and social context that is too often ignored when such challenges are treated as exclusively technical problems. The added value from this approach enables analysts and decision makers to understand the complexity of such failures and consider the many levers—technical, economic and social—that might be used to respond to them. Attempts to understand infrastructure failures as crises are not new, but the literature—like the field of practice—is to some extent underdeveloped and continuously evolving (e.g., with regard to the challenges associated with cybersecurity), generating a need for a more comprehensive approach to understanding the leadership tasks associated with the management of such crisis events in dynamic and complex organizational environments.

Article

Lydie Cabane and Martin Lodge

This chapter deals with a case of radical regulatory innovation as a result of the financial crisis of 2007–2009. Since the financial crisis of 2007–2009, the question of how to manage banking crises has risen in prominence. The considerable financial, social, and political consequences of various governments’ rescue packages established demands for creating more orderly ways of dealing with bank failure, reducing the exposure of states and the taxpayer. Consequently, considerable institutional innovation over the 2010s has led to new banking crisis management mechanisms, including new organizations, new legal regimes, and a new profession, in particular in the European Union context. The emergence of an explicit European banking crisis management has to be understood within the context of different modes of transboundary crisis management and in relation to the various rationales and accounts of bank crisis management experiences. Before the financial crisis, the emerging European regime was characterized by an absence of formal crisis prevention and management powers. Since then, banking crisis management has witnessed the rise of new institutions that illustrate broader trends in crisis management, namely the growing importance of planning and preparation rather than actual firefighting. Besides, the banking crisis management regime is shaped by deep underlying tensions that are shared by multilevel crisis management regimes more generally. To explore these issues, this chapter sets out the rationale for regulating for “orderly failure,” provides for a brief account of the emergence of the EU’s Single Resolution Mechanism, before turning to unresolved, and arguably irresolvable tensions that exist in multi-level crisis management in the case of banking.

Article

Two important perspectives have come to dominate crisis studies. The first most traditional and dominant is what could be termed the crisis management or “crisis as event” perspective. The second more critical approach to crisis studies is the constructivist “crisis as a social construct” perspective. The purpose, structure, and focus of the two approaches differ significantly in virtually every regard. The crisis management perspective assumes a positivist set of assumptions by adopting an objective epistemology and ontology. Crisis is taken to be a concrete, objective thing. Approaching storms, terrorist attacks, global pandemics, financial upheavals, and so on, are all taken to be crises with objectively threatening and urgent characteristics. Starting with an analysis of the crisis event, crisis management analysis considers the response to the event with the ultimate goal of improving reactions to and preparation for future events. Constructivist crisis studies, conversely, participate in a broad post-modernist project that critiques dominant narratives, disputes epistemological certainty and ontological objectivity, and takes cognizance of language “games” and coded messages embedded in discursive acts. Constructivists take an antipositivist ontological position, insisting that the world as people perceive it is a human invention. The emphasis is not on corporeal things or objectively verifiable facts, but rather on the construction of knowledge and the resulting assignment of meaning. The constructivist crisis perspective shifts analytic focus away from the so-called “crisis event,” itself a contested construct, and to the claim that certain contingencies constitute a crisis. The process by which individuals and groups assert a claim of urgency, as well as the interests behind all such claims, comes into focus in a constructivist perspective. Who are the individuals and groups making the claim that a crisis exists, and what are their interests in so doing? In positivist crisis management studies, the event constitutes the independent variable; for constructivist scholars, it is the claim that is the independent variable.

Article

Policy crises often lead to “framing contests,” in which officeholders, opponents, media, and the public at large aim to interpret the crisis in question, explain its cause, attribute responsibility, and agree on ways to address harm caused. More often than not, these contests turn into blame games for the incumbent officeholder. Formal and informal institutional factors can shape blame avoidance options of officeholders, and influence the outcomes of these crisis-induced blame games in terms of blame escalation, policy responses, and political sanctions. First, formal institutions shape officeholders’ incentives for arguing that they are not responsible for the crisis or should not be punished for its occurrence. Studies in the field of welfare state retrenchment and ministerial resignations have analyzed the blame avoidance options of governments and the survival rates of officeholders in various institutional settings. These studies have provided evidence that institutional complexity and policy-making authority help explaining pathways of blame management. In single-party governments, the accountability chain is more clear and prime ministers have a stronger electoral incentive to sack failing and unpopular ministers. However, a more restrictive interpretation of formal ministerial responsibility for administrative or implementation failures, along with the delegation of policy execution to agencies at arm’s length, can work as a protective shield in blame games for the officeholders and reinforce policy inertia. Consociational systems with multiparty coalitions often show an opposite effect. Second, institutionalized norms, also known as “the way we do things around here,” affect blame avoidance behavior available to officeholders. Studies which have taken “cultural-institutional” approaches to accountability studies have shown that informal accountability actors, fora, and norms about appropriate behavior shape blame processes. Actors in consociational systems with multiparty coalitions often consider consensus-oriented and nonconfrontational behavior, such as attempts to appease the opposition with policy reparations, as more appropriate responses to blame than those in systems with more elite polarization. In addition, officeholders are increasingly held to account by actors who solely have an informal role in blame games, such as the media and interest groups. Therefore, the extent of mediatization and increased polarization plays a major role in how different political contexts “process” blame. Third, other relevant noninstitutional factors for blame avoidance behavior are important, such as the nature and timing of the crisis and involvement of other actors in the blame game. Issue salience and proximity affect the potential for blame escalations and the options for blame management by both office holders and their opponents. Prior reputation of incumbent politicians helps them to draw on leadership capital to deflect blame. If the timing of a blame game coincides with upcoming elections, blame is more likely to escalate and lead to political sanctions. To further understanding of the role of institutional factors in crisis-induced blames games, future research should focus on blame games where institutions themselves are questioned, contested, or in-flux.

Article

Our current era is one of profound changes and uncertainties, and one issue is to understand their implications for high-risk systems and critical infrastructures (e.g., nuclear power plants, ships, hospitals, trains, chemical plants). Normal Accidents (NA), Perrow’s classic published in 1984, is a useful guide to explore the contemporary epoch, in the third decade of the 21st century. One reason is that this landmark book has triggered a sustained interest by scholars who have debated, challenged, rejected, refined, or expanded its core thesis over almost now 40 years. With La Porte’s, Sagan’s, Vaughan’s, and Hopkins’s contributions into what can be described as the “standard NA debate” in the late 20th century and the more recent “new controversies and debates” by Downer, Pritchard, or Le Coze in the early 21st century, the book can still resonate with current changes in the 2020s. These changes include phenomena as large, massive, intertwined, consequential, and diverse as the advent of internet and of digital societies, the increase of transnational flows of diverse nature (people, data, capital, images, goods) and the ecological crisis captured by a notion such as the Anthropocene. Taking stock, historicizing, and revisiting NA with such debates and changes in mind leads to characterize a post-NA narrative.

Article

Matthew Seeger

Crisis communication may be understood as the process of creating and exchanging messages between interdependent stakeholders in conditions of high uncertainty, threats to high-priority goals, and the need for immediate response created by a crisis. This process occurs through established channels and networks of communication, using a variety of message forms. Feedback, message consistency, message tailoring, message reach, transparency and openness, immediacy, credibility, and coordination with key groups, among other factors, are related to effectiveness. Communication within the context of crisis is necessary for coordination, sense-making, effective response, recovery, renewal, learning, and the development of resilience. Processes of communication generally follow the developmental nature of crises from pre-crisis conditions where risks develop and incubate to post-crisis conditions where social and organizational structures, processes, and norms are reconstructed. Crisis communication is closely related to risk communication that concerns the ongoing process of exchanging messages to monitor, understand, and manage risks. Effective communication is essential to the successful management of crises, and communication functions should be included in crisis and risk policy formation and planning as well as response and recovery. Communication may also promote the development of resilience and contribute to system renewal.

Article

Colleges and universities are values-based organizations. These values help anchor an institution around a set of shared principles that, when enacted, provide guidance and stability in the pursuit of one’s mission. The realization of the tripartite mission of teaching, research, and service—and in some cases, community engagement and/or clinical excellence—hinges on the articulation, identification, and manifestation of some set of shared values. During times of stability and normalcy, the embodiment and enactment of core values may come quite naturally to the members of an organization, often with little reflection or deliberation. But amid the perilous conditions often present during periods of crisis, these values have the potential to recede from view as those with formal crisis responsibilities respond to the urgent demands of the moment. Crises, by their very nature, cause disruption, and they have the potential to threaten an organization’s core mission, purpose, or reason for existence. Within the context of higher education, the work of crisis leadership is made especially complex in light of the decentralized and loosely coupled organizational structure of colleges and universities, along with the traditions, decision making patterns, and limited opportunities for training and development that constrain institutions in responding to the complexity, urgency, and interdependent pressures characteristic of contemporary crises. Furthermore, the moral purpose of higher education, the diversity of stakeholders, and the wide range of potential crisis situations make the subject of crisis leadership in this context one of increased relevance and importance for scholars and practitioners alike.

Article

Bibi van den Berg and Sanneke Kuipers

While cyberspace has become central to all vital processes in the global economy and people’s social lives, it also carries a wide variety of risks. Framing these risks is no easy feat: Some lead to harm in cyberspace itself, while others lead to harm in the offline world as well. Moreover, sometimes harm is brought about intentionally, while at other times it may be the result of accidents. The “cyber harm model” brings these challenges together and provides an opportunity to get a comprehensive overview of the different types of incidents related to cyberspace. It also reveals where the biggest challenges for cyber crisis management lie, and it provides a typology of different types of cyber crises that may arise. Cyber-induced crises have characteristics that make them hard to grapple with, for instance the fact that they can be induced remotely and instantaneously at multiple locations. Moreover, cyber crises are not always easily traceable, and sometimes it is difficult to see that the cause of a particular crisis in the offline world is an act in cyberspace. Finally, the borderless nature of cyberspace leads to potential large-scale geographical spread for cyber crises. Cyber crises also lead to a number of specific challenges for leadership, especially with respect to sense-making, meaning making, decision making, termination, and learning.

Article

Human resource management in public administration considers the civil service broadly to include all those employed in mostly noncommercial entities funded by the state. These entities may range from government bureaus and departments to agencies and authorities with varying degrees of uniformity, at both the central and local levels, and include those in such nonprofit services as health and education that are completely or mostly publicly funded. The terms civil servants, government employees, and public servants are used interchangeably. Human resource management may include such functions as planning, recruitment and selection, performance management, training, compensation, and labor relations. Key challenges of managing human resource functions include motivating and compensating public employees to reward passion for public service, managing the political roles of civil servants and their political responsiveness, selecting for salient identities to achieve representation and diversity, and reforming the civil service. These challenges impact individual and organizational performance. Motivation and compensation focus on what binds individuals to organizations and energizes those individuals. One approach, inspired by rational choice, identifies self-interest and extrinsic incentives, including performance-based pay, monitoring and surveillance to manage employees. A second approach, inspired by self-determination theory, focuses on altruism and prosocial values, and prioritizes intrinsic incentives, job design, and careful selection to nurture a passion for public service. A key challenge is to identify and nurture those with public service motivation, and reward competence and passion for public service. Selecting and nurturing those with a passion for public service includes taking care that compensation policies and practices do not crowd out public service motivation. An additional challenge focuses on the political roles civil servants play in government and the extent to which civil servants are politically responsive. Selecting civil servants based on merit, with separate career structures for politicians and civil servants, is generally associated with more effective governance and economic growth, with some important exceptions. The tasks, role perceptions, and behavior of the senior civil service are dependent on historical tradition and political culture, and on structural characteristics, such as the presence or absence of political advisors, and the support civil servants receive or need beyond government from clients and interest groups. The role of senior civil servants also depends on their specialization and the capacity of political appointees. Systems that encourage more explicit political roles for senior civil servants do not appear to sacrifice public interest. Preparing senior civil servants for these roles is a critical human management resource challenge. Authorities also use human resource tools to increase political responsiveness, including training, discipline, and changes to civil servants’ security of tenure. As identities such as race and gender become politically salient, representation becomes another key challenge for human resource management in public administration. Passive representation has had wide currency in both Western-style democracies and in the developing world. Passive representation has symbolic effects and may increase citizen trust in the bureaucracy, making bureaucratic action more legitimate in the eyes of minority communities. Moreover, minority civil servants may affect outcomes directly—for example, by influencing the implementation of a policy—or indirectly—for example, by influencing minority clients to change their behavior, or influencing nonminority bureaucratic colleagues to change their behavior or influencing organizational policy. Active representation may thus affect overall public service performance. Representation is mediated by a number of variables including discretion, salience of identity, agency mission, socialization, professionalism, and administrative level among others. Human resource managers also need to manage diversity training, which can improve outcomes. The final challenge, civil service reform, cuts across public human resource functions and themes. Civil service reform is a fraught domain, littered with experiments and not amenable to evaluation, which is a long-term enterprise. Still, some radical reforms have fundamentally altered the terms of the public service bargains between politicians and civil servants. Introducing “radical” reform, such as at-will employment, undermines commitment and fails to produce the expected performance payoffs.

Article

Contemporary administrative systems are shaped in part by their past and by the conceptions of good administration that are embedded in administrative culture. Administrative traditions shape contemporary administration in Europe and have been heavily influenced by European models. Administrative tradition means an historically based set of values, structures, and relationships with other institutions that define the nature of appropriate public administration. Seven dimensions can be used to both define these traditions and categorize public administration into four groups of nations. This explanation is similar to cultural explanations, but it includes the influence of structures as well as ideas. While the model of traditions developed is based largely on European and North American experiences, it can also be applied to a much broader range of administrative systems.