The new Twilight Zone between crisis and risk management

Picture from Risk & Regulation Magazine, Summer 2019. Magazine of the Centre for Analysis of Risk and Regulation, The London School Economics and Political Science ©

Arjen Boin* and Martin Lodge** discuss the unique challenges for organizing oversight | Risk & Regulation Magazine, Summer 2019, Issue 37.

Traditionally, the worlds of crisis and risk management have been clearly demarcated and neatly separated. The world of risk management is largely one of calculating probabilities of nasty events and assessing the level of impact should these materialize. It’s about managing day-to-day activities so as to mitigate the likelihood of adverse events from occurring. The world of crisis management begins where the risk world ends. It handles ‘risks come true’– acute events that are described in terms of urgency, threat and uncertainty.

These worlds are governed with very different tools. The world of crisis management is one of urgent decision-making, where a distinct threat has materialized. This is the world of action-packed crisis rooms and the chaos of Ground Zero, where emergency responders do the best they can. This is the world of the well-drilled professional who acts ‘mindfully’ (as Karl Weick would put it). It is the world of the crisis leader who must take timely and sometimes dramatic decisions. It is the world in which the strategic domain is separated from the world of operations by different professional cultures and perennial information bottlenecks. This is the world in which technologies are often found wanting, where planned efforts to coordinate the response network are undermined by inher- ent capacity limits. Read more

*Arjen Boin is Professor of Political Institutions and Govern- ance at the Institute of Political Science, University of Leiden.

**Martin Lodge is carr Director. Both worked together on the Horizon2020 TransCrisis project (www.transcrisis.eu).