rusq: Vol. 53 Issue 3: p. 275
Sources: Encyclopedia of Crisis Management
Todd J. Wiebe

Head of Research & Instruction, Van Wylen Library, Hope College, Holland, Michigan

I will admit that I wasn’t quite sure what all was meant by the term “crisis management,” or how broadly it could be applied as a field of study, before working on this current review. Thankfully, as one would expect from any decent reference work, the “Introduction” section was able to provide me with a solid overview of the topic. Here, it explains quite simply that “‘crisis management’ involves planning for, coping with, and recovering from the impacts of unexpected events” (xxv). Considering that “unexpected events” could conceivably emerge from just about any situation, I soon began wondering how the editors were able to limit this reference work to a mere two volumes. Further along, however, it notes that crisis management, as a field of practice and academic study, is still relatively young, emerging only in the late 1980’s. So, in light of the fact that crisis management, as an actual “thing,” is really quite new, it would be unfair to expect much more than what the editors have amassed here. The editors acknowledge, too, that they are dealing with a field that is very “complex and dynamic,” and state that their encyclopedia seeks to “provide an overview of the how the practices and the concepts associated with crisis management are currently evolving” (xxvii).

As per the norm, entries are arranged alphabetically. Without the “Reader’s Guide,” however, the casual inquirer would have a difficult time understanding how this incredibly diverse and multifaceted field is organized. Here, the 350+ entries are filed under 15 topic areas, or “Categories of Crisis” (i.e., “Financial and Business,” “Natural Disasters,” “Political, International Relations, and Civil Violence,” etc.). Many of the entries include a “Case Study” to highlight exemplary, corresponding situations or historical events. Also included are an abundance of relevant tables, images, and other figures. Back matter includes a glossary, resource guide, and appendix, which is essentially a collection of what I would consider more in-depth case studies.

To my knowledge, this encyclopedia is the first of its kind—that is, it brings together the vast range of topics comprising the broader scope of the field into a single reference work. Many of the topics, or “crises,” included here have, however, been addressed in greater detail in encyclopedias of their own, such as The Encyclopedia of Natural Hazards (Springer, 2013) and Encyclopedia of Disaster Management (Himalaya Publishing House, 2009). I could imagine this being a useful research starting point for high school or undergraduate students as many of the entries have potential to stimulate ideas for interesting papers or other projects, although I’m not so sure they would think to go looking for them in a crisis management encyclopedia.

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