When the so-called anthrax letters began to appear in the U.S.A. in early October 2001, FOI(the Swedish National Defense Research Agency), prepared to put its personnel and its expertknowledge at society's disposal, in case Sweden should be subjected to similar incidents.When the first parcel1 with suspect contents appeared in Sweden in the middle of October,FOI-NBC-Protection (the Division of Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Protection, in thenorthern city of Umeå), abbrev. FOI-NBC, undertook the task of analyzing its contents. Atthe request of the Swedish National Police Board (RPS), FOI also agreed to test the contentsof any further such parcels that might turn up. FOI is traditionally a research and advisoryorganization, not a day-to-day operative organization. Thus, NBC-Protection had to make anumber of quick decisions concerning management and re-organization, in order to meet thedemands of the situation.Since the term "crisis" is central to this report, a short explanation of what the authors meanby this term is justified. A crisis is a situation and a process in which decision makersperceive2 all of the following:
• a threat to fundamental values• severe time pressure• uncertainly
Such situations can have their origins both in internal organizational factors and in externalfactors (Sundelius, Stern & Bynander, 1997).This report presents an analysis of interviews and testimonies given by staff of FOI-NBC, inconnection with the so-called anthrax crisis. The situation/process which arose at that timewas experienced not only as fundamentally threatening to society, but also to FOI-NBC'scredibility as an organization. It also involved intense time pressure and a great deal of dayto-day uncertainly.However, crises not only involve threats, but also present new opportunities. Morespecifically, if FOI NBC-Protection could successfully master the situation, this could onlylead to an increase in its credibility as a (expert) knowledge organization.In the aftermath of the “anthrax crisis”, FOI-NBC was – naturally – interested in finding out ifits staff had been given adequate means to do a proper job, if delegated responsibilities wereaccepted, how assigned tasks were carried out and if the decision making process wasemployed in a competent manner. In short, how well did the organization actually functionwhen, during that short, intense period in the fall of 2001, it was forced to transform itselffrom an "advisory" organization to an "operative" one?Thus, in the spring of 2002, FOI's Division of Defense Analysis in Stockholm was given thetask of studying how FOI-NBC in Umeå handled the events of 2001.
Stockholm: Totalförsvarets forskningsinstitut (FOI) , 2004. , 48 p.