Saturday, September 29, 2007

Institutional Response to Crisis Panel

1) How do and should institutions respond to crises, in real time?

2) In what ways have and can institutions respond to crises that become springboard for long-term change in institution?

Levick: Institutions never have enough information--have to exist and make decisions. Generally, what happens in the first 24 hrs determines who wins or who loses. Duke lacrosse case an exception here.

Perception generally trumps reality--facts won't carry day in the media.

Always going to be a villain in every crisis--Nifong becomes the villain.

General pattern over last generation--decline of objective news; news as entertainment increasingly.

"Oklahoma land rush" for the new media--plaintiffs' bar has used it well.


experience with USA Track & Field--addressing journalists without all facts; pointing fingers is not a good strategy


problems for institutions: (1) inability to imagine: a crisis is a low-probability, high-profile event
(2) reactions to potential of threat often gets in the way of preparing for crisis
(3) inability to deal with potential threats for response


need to have sense of ongoing narratives (victim v. villain; heroic v. unheroic); also need to manage balance between strength and vulnerability; knowing that you're right isn't enough


specialist in crisis management research (soc, psych, poli sci, org. studies)
"resilience"--idea of getting back to normal after the crisis event--

(1) trauma can be transformational: many organizations have individuals who respond to traditional media--less aware of new media

(2) revision organization's philosophy

(3) renovation of underlying organizational structures--build bridges between different segments of campus


outcomes sound great--but why is it so difficult to reach them?

dangers about managing tensions--conflict between "moving on" and seeking to learn from lessons of crisis

Levick: always disagreement about nature of crisis: so what? That's what a crisis is.

"when you are not able to make decisions, it gets worse"--initially, people circle the wagons around you, but eventually pull away

Masback: Balco case--"we provided the facts when no one else would"--ability to control the info
admitted mistakes to prevent this sort of thing in future, even though small # (5) and fairly low-profile track & field athletes

Levick: reporters tend to be far fairer with institutions when the institutions are open
most lawyers bring in crisis communications people too late in the game

Masback: need outside experts in response to crisis; possible to win on facts and lose in perception


Debrah said...

I don't recall reading anything that KC posted on his participation on one of the panels.

I suppose he thinks we already know his he modestly illuminates the other participants.

Yet, he doesn't say.

Anonymous said...

There is live webcast at

KC - Please post on your participation too. Thanks.

Steven Horwitz said...

Actually, he hasn't posted at all about the panel he was on, mostly because it's very hard to liveblog and be on a panel at the same time. :)

But a summary of the "new media" panel would be nice KC.

Debrah said...

Let me make myself clearer.

I wasn't asking KC to blog while panelling.

Just to later post something about his participation on the panel.

That should not require grand ambidexterity.

Steven Horwitz said...

I understood that Debrah and that's why I put a big ol' smiley afterward, i.e., it was a joke.

Anonymous said...

Can Likud and Labour just get along? :)


lonetown said...

A hot flash to those who seem to think the "news" was once more objective.

Wrong! It was never objective.

That is easy to prove. Decade in and decade out.

Anonymous said...

This was one of your best posts, KC. I got the feeling that you felt vindicated a little bit by what was said. Again: you can't let this pass you by: those of us who have come to appreciate your work should have the benefit of your future work. Thanks, again. -- Steve W.