Master of Public Policy   Master of International Affairs  

Organisational failure and public policy disasters

The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed different degrees of vulnerability and resilience of government and public administration across many nations. We have good reasons to acknowledge that public and private governance and organisational structures under stress reveal latent fault-lines and weaknesses that otherwise would have remained undetected. Successful crisis management, however, rests on early warning and sufficient levels of preparedness known in the literature as high reliability requirements. The question of how and why these requirements are frequently not fulfilled even under relatively favorable conditions is obviously relevant when it comes to learning and prevention.

This course addresses that very question through instructing students in making in-depth inquiries into complex cases of ill-fated policies and organisations based on causal process tracing and a chosen theoretical framework. The subject is the analysis of organisational failure and public policy disasters from a variety of perspectives in an attempt to enable students to assess the risks of failure and to contribute to appropriate risk reduction and crisis management strategies. The Empirical Cases to be analysed fall into three different categories, (I) Socio-technical Systems, (II) International Organisation and Security Agencies and (III) Civil Administration. (I) The Gulf of Mexico oil spill of 2010 / The Fukushima Accident of 2011 / The Federal Aviation Administration's Aircraft (FAA) Certification Process and the case of Boeing 737Max. (II) The collapse of the UN mission and the subsequent genocide in Rwanda 1994 / The inability of the international community to protect the UN “safe area” Srebrenica during the Bosnian war in 1995 / The failure of US security services prior to 9/11 to analyse the terrorist threat and to prevent the attack of September 11, 2001. (III) The break-down of disaster relief in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina 2005 / The Hillsborough disaster 1989 / The fire at Grenfell tower in London 2017.

This course is for 2nd year MIA and MPP students only.