Political Psychology and Crisis Management

The foundational claim of this course is that knowledge on psychological as well as institutional perspectives are crucial to understand crisis behaviour.

Crises generally entail rapid, negative change of societal structures with serious
consequences for individuals and communities. Processes like these force difficult and divisive priorities in e.g. resource allocation, collective efforts and political capital. Priorities have to be made by individuals, embedded in organizational
structures, drawing on knowledge and experiences that are frequently disparate, sector-specific, and politically contested.

This course centres on an academic tradition that locates the individual and her mental capacities inside an institutional setting that both enables and constrains decision-making in crisis. The core literatures broached are:

  • leadership studies,
  • collaborative management,
  • decision-making,
  • group dynamics,
  • emotive cognition,
  • sense-making,
  • policy-oriented learning.

The course consists of two introductory lectures, one workshop and four interactive seminars. The students will be required to study single cases of decision processes in order to identify factors and characteristics that contribute to political outcomes. The themes and corresponding literature will be explored both in group settings and individual work.Theoretical debates are combined with empirical analysis. In connection to the themes, different methodologies will be
introduced and practiced.


Dr. Fredrik Bynander is Associate Professor of Political Science and Director of the Centre for Societal Security at the Swedish Defence University. Fredrik is the co-founder and chairman of the board for the Centre of Natural Hazards and Disaster Science (CNDS), which is a government designated strategic research area.

From 2009-2013, Fredrik was a special adviser and head of strategic planning at the Swedish government’s secretariat for crisis coordination. He returned
to the secretariat for the acute phase of the Covid-19 crisis in 2020.

His recent research includes crisis management studies, security studies and leadership succession. Fredrik is an elected member of the Royal Swedish Academy of War Sciences and the Swedish Society for International Affairs.