Rebuilding Mostar: Urban Reconstruction in a War Zone

By John Yarwood Mbe; Andreas Seebacher et al. | Go to book overview
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Chapter 2
The Human Factor
This chapter will try to evoke a little of the working environment—the atmosphere, the culture, and the practical circumstances. Every organisation has such an environment—democratic, charismatic, creative, dull, hostile, cohesive, or whatever—and the product of the organisation is heavily conditioned by it. Context must be considered in order to grasp a true picture and draw reliable conclusions.
The Atmosphere
I have never known such an extraordinary atmosphere as that which developed in and around the EUAM. It arose, I think, from eight factors.
The historic gravity of the mission: we felt that we had been given an awesome and perhaps impossible task, upon which the future of an entire country and even ultimately the well-being of the continent might depend (or so it seemed at the time).
The scale of effort required: both the task and the budget were very big. The staff levels at the outset were low, but the pressure to urgently achieve results was high. This led to sustained overwork.
Exposure to the eyes of the world: for the first year, Mostar was subject to intense scrutiny by the governments and media of many countries.
A sense of isolation, lack of precedents and a degree of independence of action: notwithstanding our exposure, we had delegated from the Council of Ministers a very high degree of freedom of action. Within the EUAM itself, departmental directors were left to make their own decisions to a great extent. No one told us what we should be doing, as they knew that even less than we did ourselves. There were no precedents and no prior experience on which to decide what action to take. Even on normal bureaucratic matters, the European Commission provided us with no rules.
A sense of physical danger: actual shelling and street violence were allied to a fear of direct attacks, against which we were practically defenceless.
The devastation of the city: the environment was a constant and tragic reminder of human stupidity, and the continuing actions of politicians

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