When a policy sector is confronted with a relatively strong and steep decline in legitimacy, we speak of an institutional crisis. We know little about the causes or consequences of these crises. This article explores how institutional crises are managed. It focuses on the effects of management strategies observed in a case study of an institutional crisis in the Netherlands. While we found that policy elites displayed a tendency to maintain the status quo of a policy sector, we also found that the effectiveness of their response strategies was negated by the counter-response it evoked among freshly energized interest, advocacy and citizen groups. We conclude that the resolution of an institutional crisis is inherently contested. Based on our case study, we develop a theoretical model and formulate propositions that may help to improve our understanding of institutional crisis management.