Sandra L. Resodihardjo
“This study probes deeply into the dynamics of the blame games that seem now to have become an inevitable part of advanced societies’ responses to negative events. Resodihardjo’s forensic analysis of how such negative events get framed, investigated and accounted for significantly advances our understanding of how incidents and crises affect the reputations and political capital of public authorities, and how they can foster but also significantly impede institutional learning.”—Paul ’t Hart, Utrecht University, The Netherlands “The crisis is often not even over before the mud starts flying. This little gem of a book outlines causes and consequences of blame games. The author offers strategies for dealing with these blame games. An emerging scholar writing a valuable primer on surviving blame games - warmly recommended!”—Arjen Boin, Leiden University, The Netherlands “This is an important book. Crises are followed by questions and the accountability phase inevitably involves the blame game. In using in-depth case study analysis of tragic incidents at festivals, Sandra Resodihardjo explores why and how blame games start, evolve and are then influenced by a variety of factors. This is a fascinating read, when things go badly wrong the cycle of blame is often complex, involving multiple actors and organisations often battling to frame the event to their own agenda. This should be essential reading not just for scholars studying this critical area of public policy, but practitioners who would undoubtedly learn a lot from the analytical oversight and forensic detail contained in this excellent book.”—Mark Bennister, University of Lincoln, United Kingdom During the accountability phase following a crisis, the focus is both on learning (how can we prevent a recurrence of this horrific event?) and on finding culprits (who caused and/or contributed to this crisis?). The latter is also known as the blame game where actors receive and respond to blame. Too much focus on the blame game, however, could lead to an unbalanced accountability phase as people are less inclined to share what they know about what happened because of fear, for instance, of resignation. This lack of information hampers the learning process following crises. Hopefully, a better understanding of how blame games work will lead to a better managed blame game which, in turn, should result in a more balanced accountability phase where there is ample of room to learn from the tragic event.This book furthers our understanding of what happens during blame games following crises by looking at both theory and practice. Theories on blame games help to answer questions such as who is blamed and why? How much blame is this person receiving and why? How can this person respond? And why do these responses sometimes not work?One particular response to blame (appointing an inquiry) can have quite an impact on the blame game. That is why the second theoretical chapter addresses questions such as why are inquiries created? How can one influence them? And why are some inquiries more independent than others?The analysis of three festivals gone wrong helps to expand our knowledge of blame games even further. The three cases show that responses to blame can backfire and that rituals, context, and sub-blame games can have an impact on how blame games evolve.Taken together, the theories and cases explored in this book will help people to better understand and manage blame games.