Handling crises : lessons to be learnt from Katrina

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Econometrics centre, École polytechnique

Seminar Social life | Friday September 21, 2007 - 9h00 - 11h30

Society has always been faced with natural catastrophes and has learnt to devise plans and use various means to deal with them as one-off events. Today, however, serious accidents are no longer simple events in relatively stable systems : they may trigger off chaotic situations in a context where economies and societies are inextricably linked, where there is huge dependence on vital networks, and where the media is globalised. Therefore, it is necessary to re-examine the reasoning behind our actions, our organisations and the means we have at our disposal. Based on experiences learnt from Hurricane Katrina (on August 29th 2005), Patrick Lagadec argues in favour of a method which has been tested and has since been implemented in the framework of crisis management at EDF (Eléctricité de France), which he calls 'a rapid think tank force'. This provides additional support to the emergency committee already in place, and is based on the response to four fundamental questions : What are the facts of the situation ? What are the pitfalls ? Who is involved ? What initiatives can be taken in order to put an intelligent and common sense operation in place ?

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This session was published in issue n°144 of the Journal de l'École de Paris du management, entitled Le temps de la distanciation.

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