Crisis management : psychological challenges for leaders

Abstract: The purpose of this thesis is to gain knowledge about how leaders holding the role as crisis manager at the Swedish municipal level perceive and experience crisis management in different phases.The thesis comprises four papers (Papers I-IV) based on empirical data. The sample consisted of relevant municipal leaders. Paper I, Paper II and Paper IV were based on qualitative methods of data collection and analysis, and Paper III on quantitative data. Paper I presents a theoretical model that highlights the complex evaluations underlying managers’ decisions and actions in real-life crisis situations. Paper II  contributes further knowledge on how to improve evaluation and thus how  learning from crisis experience can be developed. In particular, the importance of evaluation and the value of group reflection in evaluation are demonstrated. Additionally,  Paper II identifies motivational aspects during an event. In Paper III perceived preparedness is analysed in terms of three aspects: perceived municipal preparedness, perceived individual preparedness and motivation. These aspects are explained by different psychological theories and concepts and may serve to understand the  driving forces for motivation to work with and to develop crisis  preparedness.  Paper IV focuses on motivation for preparedness efforts and contributes a model demonstrating the close links between different motivational factors and how these  influence one another, as well as emphasizing the central role of experience and the strong role of personal factors in both supporting and diminishing motivation.In sum, this thesis demonstrates how psychological theories and concepts are  important for understanding the municipal leaders’ perceptions of their role as crisis managers. In addition, the knowledge gained in this thesis can be useful for  promoting crisis preparedness.