International Seminar 2013 prepares participants for “Managing Crises”
The ISEM group 2013
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In its 13th year, the International Seminar (or “ISEM”) dealt with the possibilities, challenges and limitations of managing crisis situations. The event of a crisis may suspend the usual premises of management, rendering established routines ineffective and available resources insufficient to deal with critical threats, whether on a micro- or macro-level, in business, economics, or politics. Fifty students from the three participating universities in Turkey, Poland and Germany therefore analyzed the state of academic research on crisis management.
The scope of topics prepared by the students ranged from the definition and categorization of crises over early warning systems, measures of crisis prevention and the concept of responsiveness to response measures, communication strategies and impact measurement. During the concluding seminar conference, the participants came together at IKU to discuss the knowledge they had collected.
In alternating workshop groups, they covered a range of topics including, but not limited to:
- the defining context characteristics of crisis management, such as the short time window of impending crisis escalation as well as increased media exposure and public awareness,
- why early indicators of crisis potential are so often underestimated or neglected,
- the monetary dimensions as well as less easily quantified consequences of crises,
- challenges of decision making in situations characterized by high uncertainty and missing information,
- and which organizational structures, leadership styles and corporate strategies have been found to be conducive to crises, or effective in preventing them.
From a different perspective, students also considered how crises may, under certain conditions, represent opportunities instead. Although a predominating “threat bias” is evident (and justified) in crisis management research, the ISEM participants also discussed the potential of a crises-caused “unfreezing” of the status quo as an opportunity for learning, radical change or strategic reorientation and analyzed cases in which the necessity to avert threats or meet newly emergent demands had caused innovation spurts.
After diving into the various dimensions of managing crises, the students then had to apply what they had learned in a case study contest. In four internationally mixed teams, they analyzed and evaluated the disasters around Fukushima and the Costa Concordia cruise ship, the corporate crises management at Nokia as well as Starbucks, against the background of their newly gained theoretical knowledge.
Once again, the ISEM had set itself a challenging topic and saw its participants rise to meet it. This report summarizes the ISEM conference for all interested parties.