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Published: Sun, 25 Feb 18 03:00:02 +0200

Copyright: Copyright University of Helsinki

9.3. Maarit Pedak: Kompleksinen yhteisökriisi

This research examines the role and tasks of the municipality that was hit by the crisis in connection to the school shootings in Jokela on 7.11.2007 and Kauhajoki on 23.9.2008. The research focuses specifically on internal crisis communication as a facilitator of multi-agency work.In the research, school shootings are seen as community crises, the consequences of which are strongly reflected on the local community. The leadership responsibility of community crises falls upon the local security authorities.The research material consists mainly of interviews with members of the crisis organization of the cities of Tuusula and Kauhajoki. The theoretical framework is composed of the theories of organizational communication and crisis study, particularly the notion of the various functions of communication in an organization, the complexity of a crisis and crisis resilience.

As a result of the study, four theoretical concepts were obtained: the recurring complexity of crisis, the dominance of circumstances, the elements of strengthening of the crisis organization and the network of crisis organizations. Complexity recurred during school shootings, since in addition to the crisis, the ambiguity of management responsibility and division of labour produced surprises and demanded the organisation to adapt. Officials of community crisis were also members of the tragedy struck community, hence work and private loss were mixed. It was also discovered that pressure from the media influenced the schedule of the crisis organization work strongly.The lack of control related to complexity was largely due to the disappearance of predictability. The concatenation of communication issues caused accumulation of problems. In the absence of authoritative communication, the crisis organization was forced to begin operating based on unofficial information that was difficult to confirm.

During burdensome tasks the crisis organization was supported by a strong leadership input combining symbolic and instrumental leadership as well as care of the members of the crisis organization. Working in pair provided the opportunity for professional peer support during crisis work. In the circumstances of surprise and disorder, the predictability of matters was enhanced by the application of known solutions in the new context. The evacuation center as well as support centers for the immediate and indirect victims of the crisis structured the entity of psychosocial support and services for traumatic situations. Additionally, places and occasions were indicated to support community grief and workspaces for media representatives. The network of crisis organizations was united by a governing body coordinating the support measures.