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Politics of the Policy Process: The Politics of Crisis Management




Admissions requirements

The students should have either followed the course Institutions of Governance and Development or have received the permission of the convener/instructor.


We talk about a crisis when policy makers have to cope with a serious threat to the basic structures or the fundamental values and norms of a system. In such distress, the constituents look at their leaders to step up and take a course of action that would avert this threat or decrease the damage evoked by the crisis at hand. The leadership, under time pressure and highly uncertain circumstances has to make vital decisions.
Central objective of this course is to set forth and capture ideas about these political challenges and realities that public leadership faces in times of crises. How do crises shape the agenda-setting? What are the “operational codes” that the leaders use in order to grasp a good understanding of the crisis at hand? What are the main ideational stimulants that direct them to one decision while ruling out another one? What are the main security concerns and stakes in the emergence of crises?
Without neglecting the importance of structural factors, this course will adopt an agency-centered approach, by focusing on how public leadership reacts under pressure.
Drawing upon the reading material, agenda setting, decision-making, meaning making (political communication) and learning from crises are the stages of crisis management that we will examine.

Course objectives

A. Indicate the critical tasks of strategic crisis leadership
B. Explain the conditions under which a crisis reaches the political agenda
C. Identify the cognitive and organizational constraints that the political leaders face in the wake or escalation of a crisis
D. Detect the crisis-communication strategies that the leaders adopt in periods of distress and assess their performance
E. Identify the political stakes behind crisis-management and crisis-communication


Once available, timetables will be published here.

Mode of instruction

The structure of the class will be mainly based on the questions that are set above. The first two classes of Week 1 will be mainly instructed by the lecturer who will provide the students with some introductory notes on their tasks for this course as well as some necessary conceptual definitions, which are deemed essential for the class. From Week 2 onwards, the students, through their presentations will set the stage for the classes. The lecturer will start with an introductory 5’ lecture and give the floor to the students who will perform a presentation of a topic of their interest for 5’-7’. The presentation should be designed to apply the respective key concepts of every week to a policy problem (the nature/content of the policy problem is up to the student’s call). The last slide of the presentation should conclude with two questions that will open the discussion in the class. The other attendants will have been divided into groups and will try to address the questions. They will be able to raise their remarks as well. The active presentation of the students to the class discussion is required.
Before the launch of every week’s classes (except for Week 1), the students will be required to have sent a 200 words reflection paper on the key notions that will be discussed during the same week.


2 short essays (10% -5% each)
10’-15’ presentation (10%)
Participation in the class (10%)
Mid-Term Exam (20%)
Case Application (2000 words) (20%)
Final Exam (30%)


There will be a Blackboard site available for this course. Students will be enrolled at least one week before the start of classes.

Reading list

Arjen Boin, Paul ‘t Hart, Eric Stern, and Bengt Sundelius (2nd ed. 2017) The Politics of Crisis Management Public Leadership under Pressure, Cambridge University Press
Birkland T. (1998) “Focusing Events, Mobilization, and Agenda Setting” in Journal of Public Policy, Vol. 18(1), pp. 53-74
Hart, P. ‘t ‘Symbols, Rituals and Power: The Lost Dimensions of Crisis Management’ in Journal of Contingencies and Crisis Management, Vol. 1(1), pp. 36-50
Coombs, W. T (1995) Choosing the right words: The development of guidelines for the selection of the “appropriate” crisis response strategies, Management Communication Quarterly, Vol. 8, pp. 447-476


This course is open to LUC students and LUC exchange students. Registration is coordinated by the Curriculum Coordinator. Interested non-LUC students should contact


Vasileios P. Karakasis


The list of the reading material will be soon enriched.