American Society of Civil Engineers

Crisis Management and Planning Using Systems Methodologies

by P. S. Sriraj, S.M.ASCE, (Doctoral Candidate, Dept. of Civ. and Arch. Engrg., Illinois Inst. of Tech., 3201 S. Dearborn St., Chicago, IL 60616-5793) and C. J. Khisty, P.E., M.ASCE, (Prof. of Civ. Engrg., Dept. of Civ. and Arch. Engrg., Illinois Inst. of Tech., 3201 S. Dearborn St., Chicago, IL)

Journal of Urban Planning and Development, Vol. 125, No. 3, September 1999, pp. 121-133, (doi:

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Document type: Journal Paper
Abstract: Organizational crisis management has become a very important and fundamental tool for the survival and growth of a firm or corporation. Well-known examples of major crises include the Bhopal chemical spill ad the Exxon-Valdez oil spill. One of the main reasons for the enormous losses associated with these events could have been partly because of the lack of coordination and preparedness between the components of the organizations concerned. Better coordination can typically be achieved by understanding the interconnected, systemic nature of the organization and its environment. Thus, it has become imperative that crisis situations be treated in a systemic manner with respect to the other functions of the organization. This paper critically analyzes the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy that took place as a result of toxic chemical release into the atmosphere from the Union Carbide factory in India and demonstrates how systemic principles and systemic thinking can be incorporated in crisis management and planning. It also performs a post-crisis audit to demonstrate the effectiveness of systems methodologies in dealing with operational problems of crisis management in indigenous cultural settings. A crisis management and planning program that takes into account the systemic nature of the crisis situation is developed for organizations in developing countries.

ASCE Subject Headings:
Emergency management
Systems management