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SAGE Publications

Cover Image: Managing Crises: Responses to Large-Scale Emergencies
  • Date: 02/11/2009
  • Format: Print Paperback
  • Price: $75.00
  • ISBN: 978-0-87289-570-6
  • Pages: 623
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Managing Crises: Responses to Large-Scale Emergencies
Arnold M. Howitt, Harvard Kennedy School
Herman B. Leonard, Harvard Kennedy School and Harvard Business School

From floods to fires, tornadoes to terrorist attacks, governments must respond to a variety of crises and meet reasonable standards of performance. What accounts for governments’ effective responses to unfolding disasters? How should they organize and plan for significant emergencies? With fifteen adapted Kennedy School cases, students experience first-hand a series of large-scale emergencies and come away with a clear sense of the different types of disaster situations governments confront, with each type requiring different planning, resourcing, skill-building, leadership, and execution.

Grappling with the details of flawed responses to the LA Riots or Hurricane Katrina, or with the success of the Incident Management System during the Pentagon fire on 9/11, students start to see the ways in which responders can improve capabilities and more adeptly navigate between technical or operational needs and political considerations.

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Table of Contents

Part I. Prepared for the Worst? The Dilemmas of Crisis Management

1. Hurricane Katrina

2. SARS in Toronto

Part II. Structuring Crisis Response

3. The 1992 Los Angeles Riots

4. The Baltimore Tunnel Fire of 2001

5. The 9/11 Pentagon Emergency

Part III. Adapting to Novelty

6. The Hurricane Floyd Evacuation in Florida

7. The 2003 San Diego Firestorm

8. The Anthrax Crisis and the U.S. Postal Service

9. Wal-Mart’s Response to Hurricane Katrina

Part IV. Improving Performance in Crisis: Dealing with Novelty and Cognitive Bias

10. The Forest Service and Transitional Fires

11. CDC Develops Its ‘Team B’

Part V. Anticipating Disaster: Event Planning

12. Security Preparations for the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games

13. Protecting the WTO Ministerial Conference of 1999

14. The Seattle Millenium Security Threat

15. Security Planning for the 2004 Democratic National Convention


Conclusion: High Performance in Emergencies: Two Modes of Operation


Managing Crises fills a glaring need in the public administration literature to address how managers practically respond to extreme situations. For students of decision-making, policy planning and implementation, and organizational behavior, these studies will prove invaluable.”

- Herbert E. Gooch III, California Lutheran University

Managing Crises provides a wide-ranging, in-depth examination of a variety of catastrophic and emergency situations. Its main strength is its clear-eyed presentation of a variety of crisis management situations. This book will be an extremely valuable resource for courses dealing with emergency management, disaster response and recovery, homeland security, and incident command. It could also be used as a supplementary text in courses in the areas of public administration, intergovernmental relations, public policy and sociology.”

- Steven D. Stehr, Washington State University

“This book fills one of the large gaps in the literature on emergency management by providing a set of case studies of disaster response that students can use to understand the challenges of different types of emergencies and the successes and failures of emergency response policies. A book such as this is essential for students in emergency management not only for its broad and comprehensive array of case studies, but in its use case study methodology as an example of scholarly methodology.”

- Bill Newmann, Virginia Commonwealth University
Arnold M. Howitt, Harvard Kennedy School

Arnold M. Howitt is Executive Director of the Kennedy School’s Taubman Center for State and Local Government and adjunct lecturer in public policy. He serves as faculty cochair of the executive program on Crisis Management and of the program for Beijing senior officials and teaches in several other KSG executive programs. For four years he directed KSG’s research program on domestic preparedness for terrorism. Howitt served on an Institute of Medicine panel that authored Preparing for Terrorism, and is coauthor and coeditor of Countering Terrorism: Dimensions of Preparedness. Howitt’s other research focuses on transportation and environmental regulation.

Herman B. Leonard, Harvard Kennedy School and Harvard Business School

Herman B. Leonard is George F. Baker Jr. Professor of Public Management at the Kennedy School and professor of business administration at Harvard Business School. He teaches leadership, organizational strategy, crisis management, and financial management. His current research concentrates on crisis management, corporate social responsibility, and performance management. He is a member of the boards of directors of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, of the ACLU of Massachusetts, and of the Hitachi Foundation. He was formerly a member of the board of directors of the Massachusetts Health and Education Facilities Authority and of Civic Investments, a nonprofit organization that assists charitable enterprises with capital financing; a member of the Research and Education Advisory Panel of the General Accounting Office; a member of the Massachusetts Performance Enhancement Commission; and a member of the Alaska Governor’s Council on Economic Policy. He served as Chair of the Massachusetts Governor’s Task Force on Tuition Prepayment Plans.

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