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Crisis Governance in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Serbia

The Study of Floods in 2014


Edited By Vedran Džihić and Magdalena Solska

This comparative study at hand has been the result of a two-year research project on floods in 2014 in the Western Balkans engaging eight research teams from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Croatia. Representing quite different disciplines, the authors of this volume have analysed diverse aspects of the crisis governance and its ramifications. This publication’s goals are twofold. Firstly, it pins down the characteristics of the crisis responses during the floods of 2014 in three affected countries, preconditioned by the existing institutions, crisis leadership, the role of media and the social capital as well as the foreign financial aid. On the other hand, through the lenses of the crisis governance we conclude on the state capacities and the nature of political regime of the cases under study. The flood megacrisis did not constitute a "window of opportunity" for individual or institutional learning. On the contrary, it did unveil some authoritarian tendencies in Serbia and Bosnia, and thus stalled the hitherto ongoing democratization process.

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8. Crisis Leadership in Governing Floods: Lessons from the Western Balkans (Sanneke Kuipers)


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8.  Crisis Leadership in Governing Floods: Lessons from the Western Balkans

Crisis leadership challenges exacerbate when leaders have to deal with a structural resource shortages, public institutions in transition, ongoing deep-rooted ethno-political conflict, and a history and continued presence of clientelism in politics and administration. Yet media and the public display a strong tendency to arrive at quick and shallow judgments on leadership performance during and after crisis. This chapter aims to look beyond the superficial frame that dominates political debates and media coverage by using an evaluation framework of leadership tasks to draw lessons on leadership performance during the floods of May 2014 in the Western Balkans. This leadership evaluation is based on the best practices and shortcomings in crisis management from the empirical studies on Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Serbia presented in the chapters in this book. The lessons emanate from this particular context but their implications are most relevant for communities and leaders of the affected countries, facing similar contingencies in the coming years.

Keywords: evaluation, leadership, learning, politics of crisis management, strategic tasks

Evaluation Framework

Leadership in times of crisis is an arduous task (Boin and ’t Hart, 2003; Leonard and Howitt, 2009; Boin et al., 2017). One can only imagine the challenges when crisis leadership is further complicated by a structural lack of resources, unstable or relatively new government institutions, a recent history of war and the continuous...

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