Sense making in the Euro crisis A personal approach towards transboundary crisis management
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This thesis is about leadership of Heads of State or Government in transboundary crises. The main question is: "To what extent do pressure and personal traits influence leaders' ability to make sense of the Euro crisis?" Thirteen members of the European Council have been examined on pressure, experience, self-confidence and conceptual complexity, using a variety of methods that stem from political psychology or crisis management theories. After results on these four variables were found, expectations were made concerning leaders' speech acts and their sense making capacities. This was done to see whether personal traits of European leaders, combined with the pressure they're under, provide an explanation for the kind of or speed of sense making in the Euro crisis. Sense making has been assessed using a method of content analysis that focused on four main concepts: urgency, threat, responsibility and uncertainty. The period under inquiry is October 2009-June 2010, since this is the approximate time between the news on Greece's excessive debt level and the first decision of the European Council on the European Stability Mechanism. The results show that all leaders balance between switching from one mode to another (gap period). However, the time it takes leaders to overcome the gap period seems to depend on their scores on the variables. Highly pressured leaders perceive the crisis as more urgent and threatening. Leaders with a high level of self-condifence tend to be more self-oriented instead of focusing on creating a common understanding of the situation. Leaders that score high on conceptaul complexity find it difficult to make clear statements and are more nuanced int their speech acts. High pressured leaders with high self-confidence and low conceptual complexity tend to jump from the gap period to the action-mode. Low pressured leaders with low levels of self-confidence and high conceptual complexity tend to be more reflective and frame the crisis at first before jumping to action-mode.