Authors: Arnold Howitt
July 2010
John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University

Emergency response organizations, as we have argued in earlier writing, must deal with both “routine emergencies” (dangerous events, perhaps extremely severe, that are routine because they can be anticipated and prepared for) and “true crises” (which, because of significant novelty, cannot be dealt with exclusively by pre-determined emergency plans and capabilities). These types of emergencies therefore require emergency response organizations to adopt very different leadership strategies, if they are effectively to cope with the differential demands of these events. In this paper, we develop further ideas about leadership under crisis conditions, concentrating on the political leadership and decision making functions that are thrust to the center of concern during such crisis events.

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