Helping Migrants While Protecting Against Migration: The Border Security Team in Crisis

  • J. P. KalkmanEmail author
  • M. T. I. B. Bollen
  • E. de Waard
Part of the NL ARMS book series (NLARMS)


In this chapter, we study the inter-organizational response to the European migration crisis by using a collective sensemaking perspective. Collective sensemaking refers to the process by which organizations construct a shared understanding of an ambiguous and confusing situation, which subsequently facilitates collaboration between them. On the basis of interviews, we distill different narratives on the migration crisis for the Dutch Border Security Team (BST) and its partner organizations (i.e. Frontex, Greek authorities, and humanitarian organizations). The BST, Frontex and the Greek authorities viewed the crisis primarily in terms of a security threat, which fostered easy collaboration between them in border protection tasks. BST members, however, also deplored the suffering of migrants and found some common ground with humanitarian actors, thus becoming involved in several humanitarian actions as well. As a result, BST members ended up helping migrants while at the same time protecting Europe against migration.


border security collective sensemaking Frontex Chios migration crisis collaboration 



We are heavily indebted to the Royal Netherlands Marechaussee for their support throughout the data collection process. Specifically, we express our gratitude to DOPS KMar, the commander and personnel of the seventh BST-rotation at Chios, and BST members of previous rotations. Additionally, we thank the editors and an anonymous reviewer for their helpful comments.


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Copyright information

© T.M.C. Asser press and the authors 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. P. Kalkman
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  • M. T. I. B. Bollen
    • 1
  • E. de Waard
    • 1
  1. 1.Faculty of Military SciencesNetherlands Defence AcademyBredaThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Department of Organization SciencesVU UniversityAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  3. 3.TNO DefenceSafety and SecuritySoesterbergThe Netherlands

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