Coordinating for Cohesion in the Public Sector of the Future

Working Paper: Copping with attacks

COCOPS Working Paper No. 6 ‘HOW TO COPE WITH A TERRORIST ATTACK? – A CHALLENGE FOR THE POLITICAL AND ADMINISTRATIVE LEADERSHIP’ by Tom Christensen, Per Lægreid and Lise H. Rykkja  just has been published.

This paper addresses how the Norwegian government and political leaders handled the terrorist attack of July 22. Such crises are typical ‘wicked problems’ transcending organizational arrangements, policy areas and administrative levels, and creating complex problems for those handling the crisis. This article addresses some of these complexities. What characterizes the government response, and how can it be explained? Can we learn anything from the Norwegian response to this crisis? The descriptive part of the paper is based on crisis management theory. To explain the crisis response, we apply three perspectives from organization theory – a symbolic, an instrumental and a cultural perspective. A major finding is that political leadership in times of crisis is crucial. The prime minster succeeded through suitable use of symbols, while the administrative leadership and the police were constrained by structural and cultural features, and ran into severe coordination problems.

It can be downloaded here

This page has been modified on 21 August 2012