Presentation on theme: "Thinking the Unthinkable: The Limits of Traditional Crisis Management and the Necessity for New Approaches Arjen Boin, Ph.D. School of Governance, Utrecht."— Presentation transcript:
1 Thinking the Unthinkable: The Limits of Traditional Crisis Management and the Necessity for New ApproachesArjen Boin, Ph.D.School of Governance, Utrecht UniversityPublic Administration Institute, Louisiana State UniversityMy name is Arjen Boin.I am at Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge LA.
2 Outline Introduction Future Shocks and Transboundary Crises The Challenges of Transboundary Crisis ManagementImplications for Institutional DesignIt is a great honor to be here. I want to thank the organizers for inviting me. A special thanks to professor Xue Lan, Haibo XX, Ping Xu.I am also happy to see so many familiar faces: Louise Comfort, Uriel Rosenthal.Today, I want to talk about the changing nature of crisis. We often hear that crises and disasters are getting worse. The damage is certainly worse. Academics 2think things are getting worse. I believe things are changing, getting worse in some ways, while some things are getting better.Today, I will explore how the future crises will look. In particular, I will look at a very special species: the transboundary crisis. I will describe what they look like. I will identify the coping challenges for government. And I will consider the lessons of crisis research, to see what we can do to prepare.This is preliminary research. I have been working on it with colleagues over the past years and I present you here with some initial insights.Only a few weeks ago, I had a unique opportunity to study one of these crises upclose: Hurricane Gustav came to town. I was present in the EOC and experienced the crisis as a citizen first hand. It is not the worst of crises, but the onsequences were dire enough to make me worry about the future.
3 The New World of CrisisChernobyl, Kobe, Mad Cows, Canadian Ice Storms, Buenos Aires blackout, 9/11, SARS, Asian tsunami, Hurricane Katrina, China Earthquake (2008); H1N1 flu epidemic; Financial crisis, BP oil spill, Icelandic Ash, Fukushima; EHECWe are facing what the American sociologist has termed “A new species of trouble”.The threat agents look familiar – natural forces, violence and technological failure – but the consequences will play out differently.Next slide.Now, let’s see what that means for governments and citizens. Let’s map out the challenges that our leaders face and see what crisis research can teach us.I will illustrate these challenges with a brief case study of Hurricane Gustav.I selected this case because I had the unique opportunity to spend time in the state’s EOC. In addition, I experienced this crisis as a citizen with a family, a rather unique experience for a researcher. I know Louise has had a similar experience with the California wildfires. It is a humbling experience.It is a good example of TB and I invite you to explore parallels with recent disasters you have witnessed or experiened yourself.Next slide3
4 Defining Transboundary Crises We speak of a transboundary crisis when the functioning of multiple, life-sustaining systems or critical infrastructures is acutely threatened and the causes of failure remain unclear.Let’s begin with a definition.Read definition.Note that the conventional elements of crisis are still here: threat, urgency and uncertainty (the old Rosenthal definition).What makes this crisis different: emphasis on tightly woven web of critical infrastructures that characterizes modern society.As we have become more dependent on these Cis, their failure now threatens life as we know it.Example: living for days without power or water simply has become unbearable for the modern citizen. These crises impose a lack of control over the simplest things that the modern citizen simply cannot accept.
5 Characteristics of TC Transboundary crises Pose an urgent threat to core values, critical infrastructuresBring deep uncertainty: Causes are not clear, unpredictable trajectoryCross geographic and functional boundariesChallenge governmental structures: No ownershipGenerate periods of intense politicizationPlay up tensions between public and privateLet’s dissect this new beast, transboundary crisis.The most important characteristic is its capacity to cross boundaries. This can be geographical, threatening multiple regions, cities or even countries. But a TB also jumps functional boundaries. For instance, it can cross from a financial system into an industrial system; from private to public, from one sector of industry to another. There is no, or at least not one, Ground Zero. An epidemic does all this.It is not clear how and why this happens. They escalate suddenly and in unforeseen directions. The SARS epidemic is a good example: its causes were ill understood, the epidemic suddenly jumped from a region to a city in a country across the world, and mysteriously lingered in that city, undermining the tourist trade for years to come.The geographical and functional spread of this beast creates the question who “owns” it and who must deal with it. This crisis brings various tensions to the fore: national vs international; central vs local; public vs private; state vs citizen (this can all happen in one crisis).
6 Increased Frequency: Driving Trends Changing threat agentsIncreased societal vulnerabilityI have two categories of trends:New or changing threat agents.Rapidly changing societies that become more vulnerable to crises new and old.Let’s start with the vulnerability of societies.
7 Increased societal vulnerability Growing complexities and interdependenciesHeightened mobilityChanging societal and political climateUrbanizationConcentration of assetsClearly, societies are becoming increasingly linked with other societies. Globalization had made the world flat. But it is not just geographical, again it is also functional. Supply chains are global and change constantly. The internet penetrates everything we do. A fishing boat in the Mediterenean can pull a cable that paralyzes internet communications in the Far East for days. A Dutch kid can create a computer virus that attacks millions of PCs. Hackers can attack entire countries.In our just-in-time societies, people have very little patience for small glitches. A small electricity failure in a big city in Holland (a few hours is enough) will outrage customers. In fact, taking away their internet is enough! Politicians are sensitive to this and pay much attention to such glitches (even if there is nothing they can do about it). The resilience of Western citizens is decreasing rapidly; politicians do very little to reverse this trend.The growing economic disparity in capitalist societies undermines traditional resilience capacity. There are people who suffer more from a crisis than others, because of their economic position. The end result of many of these crises is more disparity.Finally, governments have not prepared to deal with the changing nature of crises. The events of 9/11 have fueled a shift towards prevention, away from resilience. Large resources are being devoted to making sure the next 9/11 or Katrina won’t happen. Preparing for the last war, as our colleague Lagadec reminds us, is not a good idea.
8 Changing Threat Agents (Bio) Technology jumpsNew forms of terrorismClimate changeGlobal power shiftsThe second trend is the changing nature of threat agents. There are many, but three stand out.We have seen an accelerating development of technology, which is now creating revolutionary possibilities to engineer and interfere with the human life as we know it. This will undoubtedly create threats that we cannot even imagine right now.We have seen the rise of suicide terrorism. We can be sure that terrorists will invent new and more destructive tools.Climate change is happening. There is no way to predict how it will impact us, but it will.
9 ParadoxesWhile public leaders can do less to prevent crises, they are increasingly held responsible. But they often do not know what to do (or what the public expects of them).Trends increase vulnerability of modern societies, while increasing crisis management capacity (more can be done than ever before).Deze kan worden overgeslagen!!!It’s good to pause here for a second and observe two paradoxes.First, these TC rarely fall within the domain of one agency or leader. At the same time, the public is increasingly inclined to assign responsibility. Fair or not. Reasonable arguments will not help.We should note a second paradox. Many of the trends just noted were either designed or have had the effect of enhancing governmental capacity. For instance, technological jumps have greatly increased the capacity to manaage crises. Consider hurricanes: surprises have been limited, communication has been improved, and response capacity (think of evacuation or massive staging of supplies) has been improved.
10 In Summary: Prevention is hard if not impossible New forms of adversity are likelyFailure is not an option (politically, socially and economically)Government is not geared towards dealing with transboundary crisesWhat does that mean for crisis management?So, here is the situation:These crises will happen. We cannot prevent them, because they are inherent to the Western society.- The drivers or causes change, so it is hard to prepare for these events.As they are produced through and by man-made systems, it becomes impossible for government leaders to duck responsibility; in fact, modern citizens are quick to blame for these failures – whether it is reasonable or not.- governments and their complex bureaucracies are not designed to deal with these crises.Let’s explore these challenges in the context of a recent crisis, Hurricane Gustav.
11 Key analytical distinctions Operational v. StrategicRoutine Emergencies v. Unimaginable CrisesLocalized v. Transboundary Threats
12 Critical constraints The symbolic need for a command & control myth The institutional vulnerability of modern mega-citiesThe culture of the risk societyThe politics of crisis management
13 Challenges for Strategic Crisis Management Preparing in the face of indifferenceMaking sense of crisis developmentsManaging large response networksMeaning making: What’s the story?Accountability: Restoring trust after crisisWhat does crisis research tell us about dealing with this type of events?Together with my colleagues Paul ‘t Hart, Bengt Sundelius and Eric Stern, we studied this question in a recent book entitled The Politics of CM.Leaders have to deal with five critical challenges (read them).I will discuss these challenges, and analyze how Louisiana leaders dealt with them.Again, I invite you to compare these experiences with other recent disasters, here on abroad.
14 Task 1: Preparing for Crisis The costs of permanent preparednessPlanning vs flexibilityThe politics of preparednessIn preparing for crises, leaders face three important constraints:Crisis preparation is expensive. Permanent staff, training, planning and exercising for something that MAY happen takes away scarce resources from problems that are already happening (Crime, education, unemployment, better roads, defense etc).Planning for the unknown is very hard. It is hard enough to plan for things we know that will happen. But how do you plan for events that we have never thought about? The temptation is to prepare for events that have happened, but we know they are unlikely to happen again in that way.Crisis preparation is fraught with politics. It involves hard questions, such as who is protected against what, when and where? Who will pay for it? If I want to live in New Orleans, do US taxpayers have to help me when my house is blown away?
15 Task 2: Sense-making The crucial question: How to recognize a crisis? Answer: It’s surprisingly hard.
16 Why sense-making is hard We lack the knowledge and tools to understand, map, and track TBCsInformation has to be shared across organizational, sectoral, and geographical boundariesPsychological factors limit individual and group capacity to recognize and grasp Black SwansOrganizations: variable disjunction (CIA/FBI) and cognitive blinders (DHS)Social/political resistance: Major Sas, Y2K, global warming
17 Task 3: Managing large response networks Working with limited informationMaking critical decisions in authority vacuumCommunicating to a confused and distrustful publicCoordinating across bordersOnce leaders have formed a picture of the situation, they have to take action. Much of crisis research cconcentrates on this phase, the response phase.This research has demonstrated how difficult it is to make critical decisions and coordinate large-scale networks. I have documented many lessons in my paper, so I won’t repeat them here.Let’s see how the Louisiana government reacted to this complex crisis.
18 Task 4: Meaning-makingWhat’s the story? Reducing public and political uncertaintyBush after 9/11 v. Bush after KatrinaCore claim: it’s not about the true story, it’s about the best communicated storyIt is hard to explain a TBC without undermining the legitimacy of complex, interdependent systems
19 Task 5: Crisis termination Crisis: It ain’t over till it’s over (Katrina)Operational termination v. political closureKey lesson: political closure depends on accountability dynamicsHow to organize accountability across boundaries?
20 A Challenge of Design? Rise of transboundary crises “Impossible” crisis management challengesBounded bureaucracies: not designed to deal with crises, certainly not for the crises of the 21st centuryWhat needs to be done?Wrapping up….let’s summarize a few key lessons that we can derive from the crisis research literature.
22 The Promise of Resilience Resilience: the magical solutionModernization undermines and facilitates resiliencePrimary condition: trust (social capital)
23 Resilience: The Feasible Option Rapid recombination of available resources by:CitizensFirst-line respondersOperational leadersRequires reconceptualization of crisis leadership
24 Leadership for Resilience Support and facilitate emerging resilienceOrganize outside forcesExplain what is happeningInitiate long-term reconstructionBottom line: Immediate relief is not an option
25 Engineering resilience: A leadership responsibility Basic response mechanisms in place*Training potential responders (how to think for themselves)Continuous exercisingPlanning as processCreate mobile units media-stylePrepare for long-term aftermathCreate (international) expert network
30 National Incident Management System (NIMS) Builds on successes of ICS (developed for and by the fire-fighting community)Offers a shared structure, professional language, way of workingBuilt around defined authority relations, functional organization, modular approachRapidly institutionalized across the US (Katrina v. Gustav)
31 NIMS: Fit for TBCs?Designed for local events, dealt with by local/regional response organizationsICS has not been systematically evaluated (effectiveness remains unproven)Military/uniformed characterUnclear how ICS can be used during TBCs such as epidemics, terrorist attacks or financial crises
32 4. Formal boundary-spanning structures Defining authorityRules for collaboration, sharing resourcesRules and mechanisms for up and down-scalingRules for initiation and termination
33 U.S. National Response Framework (2008) Defines responsibilities, structures and procedures for large-scale disastersAll hazards approachStrategic perspective
34 US Response: Structures and Principles All disasters are localThe state is the primary actorFeds can help, but only if the states want itNRF prescribes procedures for requesting help and scaling upEmbrace of NIMS
35 NRF: Pros and Cons Concerted effort to define responsibilities Formally soundSound policy for training and practiceBut…All difficult problems are placed at the state levelNot always clear who is in chargeNo attention for international dimension of TBC
36 What does the EU have available? An unnoticed success storyA wide variety of capacities (mechanisms, venues, agencies)Recent developments: The Solidarity Clause, Reorganization of Commission DGs (Internal Security, EEAS, strengthening of ECHO); Erasing of Internal-external divide
37 EU Advantages… Wide range of competences Strong on civilian capacities Skilled at cooperation and coordinationTrusted venuesSingle contact pointSet to growWide range of competences-oversees everything from banking cooperation to communicable disease prevention efforts.-as demonstrated, many capacitiesStrong on Civilian Side-gamut of resources required to manage critical incidents, homeland security, from non-military perspective-competences and responsibilities run across society, and policy sectors2. Skilled at cooperation and coordination-for all the negative current headlines, this organization has five decades of experience forging cooperation and fusing diverse national systems.-institutional tools for managing cooperation; neutral third parties, judicial arbitrators…3. Trusted venue-does not carry the political or military baggage of NATO, which is currently in limbo.4. Single contact point-transatlantic cooperation: both national and supranational cooperation will be critical5. Set to grow-Actual crises, need to repair European image
38 EU Disadvantages… Incomplete, fragmented competences Unclear political commitment; politics will affect CMLeadership is a ‘hot potato’Communication is difficult; multiculturalismIncomplete Competences: functional and legal-hard to be strategic crisis management when not all tools at disposal…-hard to be operational when not sure when national responsibilities begin and supranational ones end-external vs. internal-fragmentation between sectors: EU a CM actor despite itself!2. Unclear political commitment-objective argument in support of EU role is clear-heads of state not willing hand over everything-not even willing to publicize widely what EU is doing-consider blame game3. Unspecified role: when should EU get involved, and how?In terms of operational/functional role-Which phase of crisis management?-what value added for EU?In terms of actor-coordination venue, or authoritative actor? EU can serve many purposes4. LinkagesTransatlantic-EU must be considered as partner in tackling security questions, simply because of the shift in thinking about what homeland security is and requires-EU on the way to providing Kissingers’ ‘phone number’ for Europe.Private sector-Difficult to get people to understand EU role; and it’s hard to get people to change mindsets about the private sector.-Hard security approach sees private industry as contractors; ignore other aspects; operate in 2 different worlds: national/global-And adapted approach to security sees private industry as both targets and partners; must be brought in to the discussion.-In Europe, this is particularly difficult because in some countries, frankly, cultures clash: business as seen in a negative light, often with conservative politics-EU can offer alternative cooperation venue than at national levels; a venue for bringing together business and public interest. This goes for the ‘third’ non-state partner: civil society organizations like red cross, doctors without frontiers, journalists
39 In summary: Future design challenges More TBCs are likelyContemporary government structures are ill suitedNeeded: TBCM capacity & enhanced resilienceRequired: (Re)design of institutions