Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 06/2008

Crisis management the Finnish way - A state of the art report on practice and research

Raimo Lintonen

January 1999

Finnish Institute for International Affairs


The purpose of this report is to analyse the threat perceptions, organisational contexts, practices as well as the “reflectiveness” of crisis management in Finland. The emphasis is on the overall situation, not on concrete historical crises. It is part of the groundwork for a project on the subject at the Finnish Institute of International Affairs (FIIA). The report is also an outgrowth of the participation of the FIIA since March 1999 in the evolving co-operation amongst European academics and practitioners in the field of crisis management.

“Crisis management” is not a new concept, but it has gained increasing practical as well as scholarly attention in the 1990’s in particular. “Crisis” is defined as a situation or a stage where important values are threatened, limited time is available and circumstances are marked by a great deal of uncertainty. The values on the line may include independence and territorial integrity of a state, or potential damage to its people or property. ‘Uncertainty’ refers to inadequate information, which typically impairs the chances to know enough of the situation and possible effects of decisions. This definition is a broad one, for it covers cases from political-military situations of high tension, threat of war, low-intensity societal violence and military peace operations to large-scale civilian disasters or accidents. The management of crises in turn comprises such structures and activities, which aim at and work for the termination, resolution, control, prevention and after-care of such situations.