A crisis (from the Greek κρίσις - krisis; plural: "crises"; adjectival form: "critical") is any event that is, or expected to lead to, an unstable and dangerous situation affecting an individual, group, community, or whole society. Crises are deemed to be negative changes in the security, economic, political, societal, or environmental affairs, especially when they occur abruptly, with little or no warning. More loosely, it is a term meaning 'a testing time' or an 'emergency event'. Crisis is the situation of a complex system (family, economy, society) when the system functions poorly, an immediate decision is necessary, but the causes of the dysfunction are not known.
a) situation of a complex system – simple systems do not enter crises. We can speak about a crisis of moral values, an economical or political crisis, but not a motor crisis. b) poor function. The system still functions, but does not break down. c) an immediate decision is necessary to stop the further disintegration of the system. d) the causes are so many, or unknown, that it is impossible to take a rational, informed decision to reverse the situation.
Crisis has several defining characteristics. Seeger, Sell now, and Ulmer say that crises have four defining characteristics that are "specific, unexpected, and non-routine events or series of events that [create] high levels of uncertainty and threat or perceived threat to an organization's high priority goals." Thus the first three characteristics are that the event is
1. unexpected (i.e., a surprise)
2. creates uncertainty
3. is seen as a threat to important goals
Venette argues that "crisis is a process of transformation where the old system can no longer be maintained." Therefore the fourth defining quality is the need for change. If change is not needed, the event could more accurately be described as a failure. Apart from natural crises that are inherently unpredictable (volcanic eruptions, tsunami etc.) most of the crises that we face are created by man. Hence the requirements of their being 'unexpected' depends upon man failing to note the onset of crisis conditions. Some of our inability to recognise crises before they become dangerous is due to denial and other psychological responses that provide succour and protection for our emotions. A different set of reasons for failing to notice the onset of crises is that we allow ourselves to be 'tricked' into believing that we are doing something for reasons that are false. In other words, we are doing the wrong things for the right reasons. For example, we might believe that we are solving the threats of climate change by engaging in economic trading activity that has no real impact on the climate. Mitroff and Silvers  posit two reasons for these mistakes, which they classify as Type 3 (inadvertent) and Type 4 (deliberate) errors. The effect of our inability to attend to the likely results of our actions can result in crisis. From this perspective we might usefully learn that failing to understand the real causes of our difficulties is likely to lead to repeated downstream 'blowback'. Where states are concerned, Michael Brecher, based on case studies of the International Crisis Behavior (ICB) project, suggested a different way of defining crisis as conditions are perceptions held by the highest level decision-makers of the actor concerned:
1. threat to basic values, with a simultaneous or subsequent 2. high probability of involvement in military hostilities, and the awareness of 3. finite time for response to the external value threat
Crisis management is the process by which an organization deals with a major event that threatens to harm the organization, its stakeholders, or the general public. The study of crisis management originated with the large scale industrial and environmental disasters in the 1980s. Three elements are common to most definitions of crisis: (a) a threat to the organization,...
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