Managing Disasters and Leading through Crises
Faculty insight with Arnold Howitt
Arnold Howitt, a professor on public policy at Harvard, talks with Jenny Attiyeh of ThoughtCast about how the government plans and prepares for emergencies.
Video interview with Arnold Howitt on crisis management and emergency preparedness
Arnold Howitt is the executive director of the Ash Institute for Democratic Governance and Innovation, an adjunct lecturer in Public Policy, co-director of the Program on Crisis Leadership at Harvard Kennedy School, and an instructor at Harvard Extension School. He is also the co-editor of the book Managing Crises: Responses to Large-Scale Emergencies, which details how to effectively lead a crisis management team and understand emergency preparedness.
Managing Crises features a case study on Hurricane Katrina and what went wrong in the handling of the disaster. Fundamentally, disasters on the level of Katrina are chaotic, hard to manage, and unpredictable. A common characteristic of natural disasters is that half of what emergency response teams think they know about the emergency turns out to be wrong.
One of the challenges of crisis management is that governments spend a lot of money and time on events that may not happen and are vulnerable to funding cuts. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) provided a lot of money to prepare “Hurricane Pam,” an emergency response plan for a potential category three storm in New Orleans. Though Hurricane Pam did address some of the scenarios later experienced in Katrina, funding was cut before responders were able to execute all of the practice scenarios.
Arnold Howitt’s courses and book
- Crisis Management and Emergency Preparedness
- Disaster Relief and Recovery
- Management Graduate Program
- Buy Managing Crises: Responses to Large-Scale Emergencies edited by Howitt and Herman Leonard
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