Crisis management

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Crisis management ([ ˈkʁiːzənmænɪdʒmənt ]; English crisis management ) is the systematic way in which an economic subject deals with crisis situations .


The terms “crisis management” and “disaster management” are often used synonymously; However, they do show differences (see #term ). As a cross-sectional task, crisis management is, on the one hand, the function in an economic entity (e.g. the crisis team ), and on the other hand, all activities to overcome the crisis are to be regarded as crisis management.

All economic subjects ( companies , private households or the state with its governments ) need a crisis management system that becomes active in the event of a crisis that threatens the economic subject or its environment . Similar to risk management , the identification , analysis , quantification , crisis assessment , crisis assessment and final crisis management are necessary in a crisis .

Crisis management is a permanent task for every major economic entity; it must not only be installed when a crisis occurs.


Crisis is a problematic, often sudden and escalating situation. Often it is connected with a dilemma and / or the situation is at a crossroads (for example Cuba crisis : war, nuclear war or peace?). A catastrophe is a momentous accident along with its consequences. In the narrower sense, it is a long-lasting and mostly large-scale damage situation that cannot be adequately dealt with with the danger prevention normally provided ( fire brigade , rescue service , police ) and which can only be dealt with with help from other regions or states (see disaster criteria for Definition ).

A crisis is understood, especially in corporate management, to be a threat to the continued existence of a company or an important business area . While crisis prevention deals with potential crises, it is the task of crisis management to combat, contain and manage the personal ( personal injury ) and material damage that may arise during and after the occurrence of a crisis . The permanent loss of performance can immediately be understood as a crisis. Crisis management has dealt in particular with the types of crisis banking crises , cyber attacks , energy crises , epidemics , financial crises , wars , natural disasters , pandemics , private life crises ( unemployment , marital crises , death , debt ), political crises (including government crises ), psychiatric crises , terrorism or economic crises to deal with.

Both disasters and crises can also be causally linked. The Fukushima nuclear disaster was a catastrophe for hundreds of thousands of people who had to leave the radioactively contaminated area around the exploded nuclear reactors. At the same time, it immediately led to a crisis for the Japanese national budget , which is facing enormous financial burdens, and for the operator of the plant, Tepco : he is threatened with bankruptcy; it depends on outside financial help. Tepco is obliged to minimize or avoid further damaging events. In May 2012, Tepco received government aid of 9.6 billion euros, in return the Japanese government took over more than 50 percent of the voting rights and thus de facto nationalized the company.

Legal issues

Crisis is even a legal term that is defined in Section 4 (1) VSVgV as any situation in an EU member state or a third country in which a damaging event has occurred that goes well beyond the scope of damaging events in everyday life and involves life and The health of many people is seriously endangered or restricted, has a significant impact on property or necessitates vital supply measures for the population. A crisis therefore also exists if there are specific circumstances that mean that such a damaging event is imminent. Armed conflicts and wars are crises within the meaning of this regulation.

Types of crises

The specialist literature distinguishes several types of crises, which are often different in number and naming. A more general distinction between the following four types should suffice here:

  • Survival crisis : This includes events that endanger the existence of a company or other type of organization. In the case of a company, this includes liquidity problems, failure of important business processes , failure of important customers and / or suppliers and other economic difficulties that can lead to bankruptcy . Measures that counteract a crisis of this type often include economic advice or corporate restructuring with cuts in the corporate structure and, above all, must be pushed ahead quickly.
  • Control crisis : It encompasses all problems relating to the management of a company. These include wrong or not made decisions , a monopoly of power, a power vacuum and a lack of information for decision-making. As countermeasures, instruments from reorganization, business process reengineering (BPR), knowledge management or personnel development are usually available .
  • Change crisis : It can result from changes in an organization or in a company. These include B. new IT applications that are not accepted by the users, or process changes that are not lived by the workforce . A change crisis can through proactive change management ( English change management ) can be counteracted.
  • Event- induced crises : These crises (e.g. event-induced brand crises) are triggered by certain events and can take several different forms, the negative and sometimes lasting effects of which are largely dependent on the countermeasures taken (crisis communication or crisis management). Take the Liechtenstein tax affair as an example : the first event was the data theft , but the trigger for the crisis was the second event, the high-profile arrest of Klaus Zumwinkel .

Process flow

Crisis situations usually have characteristics such as urgency ( time pressure ), surprise, uncertainty and discontinuity. With this prerequisite, the process flow of crisis management deals with the following process sections :

Crisis identification

First of all, within the framework of crisis perception , decision-makers must even recognize that a crisis is present or threatened. This can have internal causes such as worsening weak points or even corporate crises, but crises are often external events ( market tightness , market disruption ) up to and including economic shock .

Crisis analysis

This is followed by a detailed analysis of the crisis and its causes. Without a crisis analysis and thus without an understanding of the causes of the imbalance, it is not possible to record all weak points.

Crisis quantification

The quantification should help to determine the material and ideal extent of a crisis on an economic subject.

Crisis assessment

The crisis assessment is an assessment of the extent to which the crisis affects the economic entity and which organizational units can be affected by it.

Crisis assessment

The crisis assessment provides a classification with regard to the intensity of a crisis.

Crisis management

The crisis management is the core task of crisis management and takes place through all measures such as combating the causes of the crisis, reducing the impact of the crisis and elimination of any existing damage. In crisis situations, the usual behavior patterns and strategies are usually not sufficient to cope with the crisis. The existing knowledge , experience and resources are also often insufficient to eliminate the crisis situation.

Strategies for crisis avoidance / reduction

Many crises can be traced back to wrong strategic decisions or to misconduct in emergency situations. The availability of decision-critical information and the ability to deal with negative events promptly are good protection against crises.

Early warning systems

In order to anticipate crises or at least recognize them at an early stage, early warning systems can be installed to serve as crisis prevention . Their aim is to forecast crisis situations at an early stage in order to also increase the response time of crisis management. In Section 91 (2 ) AktG , early detection of developments that endanger the continued existence of the company is required in the case of stock corporations .


  • Gahlen, Matthias / Kranaster, Maike: Crisis Management. Planning and organization of crisis teams , Deutscher Gemeindeverlag, 2nd extended edition 2012, 114 pages, ISBN 978-3-555-01590-3
  • Garth, Arnd Joachim: Crisis Management and Communication , Gabler Verlag Wiesbaden 2008, 212 pages, ISBN 978-3-8349-0948-0
  • Harz, Michael / Hub, Heinz-Günter / Schlarb, Eberhard: Rehabilitation Management. Leading companies out of the crisis , 3rd edition, Düsseldorf 2006, ISBN 3-87881-184-5
  • Neubauer, Michael: Crisis Management in Projects , Springer Verlag, 278 pages, 3rd edition 2010, ISBN 978-3-642-12399-3
  • Nolting, Tobias / Thießen, Ansgar (Hrsg.): Crisis management in the media society. Potentials and perspectives in crisis communication . Wiesbaden: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften 2008, ISBN 978-3-531-15384-1
  • Roselieb, Frank (Ed.): Managing the crisis , Frankfurter Allgemeine Buch , Frankfurt am Main, 2002, 248 pages, ISBN 3-934191-71-1
  • Roselieb, Frank / Dreher, Marion (eds.), Learning from successful crisis managers , Erich Schmidt Verlag, Berlin, 2008, ISBN 978-3-503-10090-3
  • Thießen, Ansgar: Organizational communication in crises. Reputation management through strategic, integrated and situational crisis communication , VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, Wiesbaden: 2011, ISBN 978-3531182391
  • Thießen, Ansgar (Ed.): Handbuch Krisenmanagement , Springer VS, Wiesbaden: 2013, ISBN 978-3-531-19366-3
  • Trauboth, Jörg. H. (Ed.): Crisis Management in Companies and Public Institutions - Professional Prevention and Reaction to Security-Relevant Threats from Inside and Outside , Richard Boorberg Verlag, Stuttgart / Munich, 2016, ISBN 978-3-415-05517-9

Web links

Wiktionary: Crisis management  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Thomas Hutzschenreuter / Torsten Griess-Nega (eds.), Crisis Management: Basics - Strategies - Instruments , 2006, p. 241
  2. Hans-Dieter Zollondz / Michael Ketting / Raimund Pfundtner (eds.), Lexicon Quality Management , 2016, p. 589
  3. Gerd F. Kamiske / Jörg-Peter Brauer, Quality Management from AZ , 1999, p. 259
  4. Stefan Hohberger / Hellmut Damlachi, Performance Increase in Companies , 2017, p. 415
  5. State has majority in voting rights: Tepco now belongs to Japan ( Memento from May 10, 2012 in the Internet Archive ) at, May 9, 2012 (accessed May 9, 2012).
  6. Oliver Pott / André Pott, Entrepreneurship , 2015, p. 309
  7. Hans-Dieter Zollondz / Michael Ketting / Raimund Pfundtner (eds.), Lexicon Quality Management , 2016, p. 590
  8. Expect the surprising. - A new type of catastrophe threatens the globally networked world. How are they to be dealt with? Just with a new way of thinking.