School of Policy, Planning, and Development




Contents of Recent Issues

Volume 23, No. 3. (November 2005)


Articles by:

Heidi Ellemor and Jon Barnett, “National Security and Emergency Management After September 11,” pp. 5–26.

The terrorist attacks in New York on September 11 2001 have troubled the practice of security. There has been renewed emphasis on the need for a layered security strategy, and this has refocused attention on civil defense. As a consequence, emergency management institutions are increasingly being incorporated under the aegis of national security. This is resulting in the implementation of older command-and-control type models of emergency management at the expense of the prevention-oriented, preparedness and community based approaches that emerged after the end of the Cold War. The paper situates this recent convergence of security and emergency management in a discussion of the evolution of both policy fields since the end of WWII. It then explains the post-September 11 trend towards centralizing authority in emergency management in Australia, but with considerable reference to parallel developments in the United States. The paper argues that while this retrogressive shift seems inimical to contemporary advances in emergency management, an inclusive interpretation of security as human security could serve to reinforce the important developments made in the field of emergency management in the last decade. (AA)

Brian K. Richardson, “The Phases of Disaster as a Relationship Between Structure and Meaning: A Narrative Analysis of the 1947 Texas City Explosion,” pp. 27–54.

Developing disaster phase models has been useful, particularly for understanding response efforts to emergencies and disasters. However, such models are limited in their ability to explain the phases encountered by a social collective, or community, as it progresses through response and recovery efforts. This study examined phases of disaster response and recovery as a sociological problem. A grounded-theory analysis was used to examine 60 personal narratives of the 1947 Texas City explosion, which is an example of a cosmology episode. Survivors of the explosion provided narrative accounts describing their memories of the incident. Results support the idea that social collectives depend upon a transactional relationship between structure and meaning to make sense of events. The study develops a phase model depicting four phases experienced by the Texas City community prior to, during, and after the disaster. This study reveals contributions gained through analysis of personal narratives to illuminate the relationship between disaster and human activity. (AA)

Benigno E. Aguirre, “Cuba’s Disaster Management Model: Should It Be Emulated?” pp. 55–71.

The article offers a criticism of the point of view that disaster programs  in Cuba should be emulated by other countries. It shows the relationship that exists between disaster vulnerability and resilience, to shed light on the promises as well as the problems of using Cuba as a model to emulate in social development. Cuba has an excellent record when it comes to disaster preparedness and response involving warning and evacuation, in which governmental control of the population is used very effectively to minimize the potential morbidity and mortality of hurricanes and tropical storms. It nevertheless has a very poor record in dealing with disaster reconstruction, recovery, and mitigation as well as with solving slow onset chronic problems and vulnerabilities of the population. (AA)

Sitki Corbacioglu and Naim Kapucu, “Intergovernmental Relations in Response to the 1999 Marmara Earthquake in Turkey: A Network Analysis,” pp. 73–102.

This research examines the intergovernmental coordination to reduce vulnerability of local communities to disasters. Turkeys exposure to seismic risk is very high and achieving intergovernmental coordination in response operations is a challenge. The formal bureaucratic structure of the disaster management inhibits timely collective action in complex disaster environments. The paper examines one of the most destructive regional disasters of the last century, the 1999 Marmara earthquake. The research uses data from content analyses of news reports, interviews with public and nonprofit managers, and direct field observations. This analysis was carried out using UCINET 6.0 social network analysis software program. The results of the network analysis have shown that there is a problem of communication and coordination among public agencies in response to the disaster. Moreover, the integration of organizations from different jurisdictions and other sectors was problematic in the response operations. The results of the study reveal the leverage points for improving intergovernmental collective action from the perspective of complex adaptive systems theory. (AA)

Nathan J. Wood and James W. Good, “Perceptions of Earthquake and Tsunami Issues in U.S. Pacific Northwest Port and Harbor Communities,” pp. 103–138.

Although there is considerable energy focused on assessing natural hazards associated with earthquakes and tsunamis in the U.S. Pacific Northwest, little has been done to understand societal vulnerability to these hazards. Part of understanding societal vulnerability includes assessing the perceptions and priorities of public sector individuals with traditional emergency management responsibilities and of private citizens who could play key roles in community recovery. In response to this knowledge gap, we examine earthquake and tsunami perceptions of stakeholders and decision makers from coastal communities in the U.S. Pacific Northwest, focusing on perceptions of (1) regional hazards and societal vulnerability, (2) the current state of readiness, and (3) priorities for future hazard adjustment efforts. Results of a mailed survey suggest that survey participants believe that earthquakes and tsunamis are credible community threats. Most communities are focusing on regional mitigation and response planning, with less effort devoted to recovery plans or to making individual organizations more resilient. Significant differences in expressed perceptions and priorities were observed between Oregon and Washington respondents, mainly on tsunami issues. Significant perception differences were also observed between private and public sector respondents. Our results suggest the need for further research and for outreach and planning initiatives in the Pacific Northwest to address significant gaps in earthquake and tsunami hazard awareness and readiness. (AA)


Occasional Series on the Future of Disaster Research:

Ilan Kelman, “Operational Ethics for Disaster Research,” pp. 141–158.

      Operational ethics for disaster research is suggested as an important area for further investigation. The main questions are suggested as:


        1. Could carrying out disaster research interfere with disaster and risk management activities?


        2. Could publishing disaster research interfere with disaster and risk management activities?


        3. Should researchers take responsibility for the operational outcomes of their research?


The example of technical rescue illustrates how these questions might be addressed in order to better understand operational ethics for disaster research. Experiences from field work on active volcanoes are presented as a research area where operational ethics have been applied, although improvements are needed. Researcher good governance is an approach which consolidates many of the issues discussed. Although disaster researchers might feel that no further governance steps are necessary, these questions should be openly debated.. (AA)

William A. Anderson, “Bringing Children into Focus on the Social Science Disaster Research Agenda,” pp. 159–175.

Significant progress has been made in the social science disaster research field since its inception several decades ago. Despite the advances in knowledge, important areas of research have been seriously understudied, including the impact of hazards and disasters on children and youths. In this paper, it is argued that such knowledge is needed to deepen our understanding of the impacts of disasters on society and to provide a firmer basis for disaster management policy and practice. It is suggested that children should be brought into clearer focus in the disaster research field through studies, particularly those of a comparative nature, that consider (1) children’s vulnerability and the outcomes they experience because of their youth, (2) actions taken by the adult society to reduce the vulnerability of children, and (3) actions children and youths undertake for themselves and others to reduce disaster impacts. (AA)

Jim Stuart-Black, Eve Coles, and Sarah Norman, “Bridging the Divide from Theory to Practice,” pp. 177–198.

Increasing exposure to hazards and their associated risks coupled with escalating political, economic, social, and cultural dynamics have led to a growing demand on emergency planners across the world. Historically, emergency planning in the United Kingdom (UK) was a second or third career option, characterized by individuals with a background based in emergency services, the military, or logistics, with similar attributes seen in emergency planners in New Zealand (NZ). In light of this new environment, practitioners and academics alike are faced with the challenge of ensuring that today’s emergency planners are suitably educated, skilled, and equipped to face the challenges of the new working environment. Since 1995 when the first United Kingdom undergraduate degree in Disaster Management came on-stream at Coventry University, a number of academic undergraduate and postgraduate courses in Disaster and Emergency Management have become ever increasingly popular to both mature students and school-leavers in the UK. Similarly, in New Zealand the historical approach to training has in recent years been adapted into a suite of professional development activities including access to tertiary-level qualifications and diplomas. Is it still acceptable to consider professional development simply in terms of short-course attendance, or should we be focusing on more contemporary academic programs as delivered by a number of tertiary organizations? Is there a gap between the theoretical (academic) approach and that of the traditional practitioner and if there is, can we bridge the divide? The historical relationship between the researcher and the practitioner in the UK and NZ appears to have been “Never the twain shall meet,” but is that still the case? The context for developing the emergency management profession is changing. The focus of job descriptions and person specifications has changed dramatically within the last five years, begging the questions: What cultural change has taken place between the practitioner and the researcher, and what value is placed on evidence based practice? In answering these questions, this paper will examine the legislative frameworks in the United Kingdom and New Zealand before identifying the respective approaches to training and professional development. (Modified authors’ introduction)

Arjen Boin, “Disaster Research and Future Crises: Broadening the Research Agenda,” pp. 199–214.

Today’s crises and disasters pose formidable challenges to politicians, public administrators, first responders, and ordinary citizens. The 9/11 events, SARS, the Asian tsunami, Hurricane Katrina and her sisters, the giant earthquake in the Indian-Pakistan region, and the looming threat of a new flu pandemic are but a handful of recent crises that seem to outstrip human capacity for dealing with large-scale adversity. Globalization and modernization tightly connect life-sustaining systems, which renders these systems increasingly vulnerable to breakdowns. In addition to causing untold misery within a bounded geographic area, the modern disaster hurts faraway and seemingly unrelated populations. The traditional challenges of crisis and disaster management prevention, preparation, response, and recovery are taking on new dimensions. Recent crises and disasters have exposed the inadequacy of traditional processes and structures, which were designed to deal with more traditional forms of adversity. The aftermath of today’s crises and disasters is marked by instant politicization, which all too often creates an entirely new crisis for both crisis leaders and disaster victims. The prospect of a flu pandemic has authorities across the world now scrambling for plans, tools, conceptual anchors, road maps some idea, in short, of what to do when such a mega-disaster strikes. The question, then, is what crisis and disaster researchers can bring to the table and in which areas they remain wanting. This article focuses on the latter: which topics do modern crises and disasters suggest for the research agenda?  (Modified author introduction)


Feedback from the Field:

Scott Somers, " Katrina: Did Federal Priorities Lead to a Slow Response?" pp. 215–219.

Juan Murria, “International Seminar Organized by the University of Falcon, Punto Fijo, Venezuela,” pp. 221–222.


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