What is Crisis Design in Public Administration?

Crisis design is a decision making model through which solutions are created to respond to a problem as soon as possible. It can be used to control damage as well as prevent one from happening. One of the interesting facts about crisis design model is that it does not give the administrator the time to evaluate majority of the advantages and disadvantages of the solution before it can be implemented. Much of it is connected to a need for immediate action, preventing the administrator from acquiring all the necessary data required to perform the evaluation. That is why, although the solution tends to have a shorter lifespan, there is always a possibility for it to cause a major problem in the long run.

Crisis design does not have a good reputation for a reason. The biggest problem is that it cancels out the need to allow subordinates to have a say about whether its solutions should be implemented. Same can be told about the public. The sound of their voice is ignored. In some cases, both the groups have to pay a big price. Moreover, the one who goes by the model can get in trouble later, for the affected people can always sue the government. This has given birth to the idea that crisis design is not a model that should be used frequently.

But it is not possible to completely do away with it and there is a very general reason behind it. The model does help at times and since the future can never be known with complete certainty, people cannot fully prepare for the worst. The last resort is to either just do or die. This is when the model comes in handy.

Yet it must be noted that crisis design cannot go in haywire mode. When applying it the administrators have to abide by policies and approval of the main government. A benefit is attached to it. In case of negative consequence, the administrator can use rationality to justice the application of the model.

Summary of Characteristics of Crisis Design
  • It is reactive
  • Used to implement quick action
  • Decision is short lived
  • Highly bureaucratic because only the top public administrators take the decision
  • Short amount of time prevents complete analysis of the situation which weakens the task of finding other alternatives
  • During implementation process, full information about the decision is not shared with all
Identifying Crisis Design in the Real World
  • Use of atom bomb in Hiroshima and Nagasaki: Japan was not giving up, turning into a matter of crisis. The last resort for US was to drop the bombs in those two places. Many Japanese are still affected by it. But according to US, it meant saving the lives of Americans.
  • Firefighters and 9/11: The hit buildings and people trapped in them were a crisis for the government. Firefighters here were the ones responding to it. They were following order to rescue the people. However, the ones inside the southern tower did not have information about the norther one coming down. There was a lot of confusion. Eventually, the southern tower collapsed, killing many of them.
  • Recession leading to budget cuts: During recession, tax revenue suffers. In this situation, government does have the ability to do something about the economy. But it does take time to put the plans in action. Shortage of fund needs immediate response. For government, the only option is to utilize budget cuts. This way many federal and state programs go through job loss. 
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