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G.B. Reschenthaler & Fred Thompson

What crisis characteristics would vary conditions needed both to maintain the continuities of mature, efficient organizational processes of (rightly) normal operations, and (also rightly)?

Table 2 nominates properties of the crises that have strong implications for organizational design and capacities when institutions consider crisis management.  

Table 2. Character of the Crisis: Institutional Design Factors.

             Factor                        Varies                      From   (scale 1 –-> 5)  To

Public Perception.  

     a. Consensus on seriousness of the crisis.              From very strong to weak, equivocal**

Variations in the Feared Effect

     b. Overall magnitude.          From devastating, potentially irreversible to

       destructive but not debilitating.

     c. Speed of crisis unfolding :                     From abrupt and rapid to evolving over    

                                                                         several management generations.

     d. Propagation of effects                     From concentrated to spreading over

                                                                         unpredictable terrain.

     e. Perceived duration of effects        From relatively short term to many

                                                                         management generations.

Information about Causes, Consequences, Responses.

     f. Knowledge of causes and consequences.         From available, only needs to be assembled       

                                                                                       to unknowable in the time frame of response.

    h. Mix of information for diagnosis, remedy.           From only public information needed to

                                                                          information predominantly from secret sources

    i. Consensus on utility/credibility of information.    From strong consensus to conflicting,         

                                                                                       competitive disagreement.

** Note: If consensus is very strong, trumps everything else as an influence on institutional dynamics.  

As these conditions gather in different combinations, so to do the challenges that confront

the institutions charged with responding to the crisis and those charged with their oversight.5

(The reflections below become even more cryptic. The analytical entry I’ve taken to our topic

5 Again, I invite conference members to nominate additional factors.  You will immediately realize that other conditions stem from the differences in national institutional patterns and dynamics, and become important when preparing general capacities to respond trans-national crises. For the moment, these sources of variation are bracketed. I return to them below.

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