Organizational leadership's impact on emergent behavior during disaster response and recovery operations
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Since the events of 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina, emergency management has put great efforts into formalizing response and recovery structures following natural and man-made disasters. However, these formalized structures are not often flexible enough to allow for the innovation that each different disaster may require to best meet the needs of the impacted citizens in the most effective and efficient way possible. As emergency management continues to become more complex, organizational leadership will be challenged to balance the need for standard operating procedures and policies against the ability to leverage emergent behavior that allows for innovation in addressing the specific problems brought on by each unique disaster. This thesis focuses on identifying under what circumstances emergent behavior is desired within the context of emergency management, and how organizational leadership can impact the factors that enhance or inhibit emergence during response and recovery operations. Using participant observation methods over the course of many years of disaster leadership, eight different incidents were analyzed for the identification of leadership themes that impacted emergent behavior. As a result of these findings, five themes emerged in which emergency management's organizational leadership can most effectively impact self-organizing behavior within its ranks. With an understanding of when emergence is desirable, and by developing the capacity and an organizational culture that supports the vacillation between structure and innovation, emergency management officials will be better able to lead effective responses to complex incidents.
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