Coordinating Expertise Among Emergent Groups Responding to Disasters

Organization Science, Vol. 18, pp. 147-161, 2007

15 Pages Posted: 4 Apr 2011

See all articles by Andrea B. Hollingshead

Andrea B. Hollingshead

USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism; University of Southern California - Marshall School of Business

Ann Majchrzak

University of Southern California - Marshall School of Business

Sirkka Jarvenpaa

University of Texas at Austin - Red McCombs School of Business

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: 2007

Abstract

In the aftermath of catastrophic events, when plans for organized and timely response break down, impromptu groups often emerge to provide disaster relief. Much remains to be learned about the internal dynamics of these emergent response groups whose representatives may include members from organizations with relief missions; private sector organizations offering resources; and private citizens with the information, relationships, or physical and mental stamina to help. Organizational theories have the potential to contribute to a better understanding of emergent response groups and how they efficiently coordinate knowledge, people, resources, tasks, and technology, thereby substantially improving disaster response for future catastrophes. We apply one organization science theory toward better understanding of these groups - transactive memory systems theory - which is a theory about knowledge coordination in groups. Our application of this theory to emergent response groups requires extending the theory in three ways: the role of expertise in task assignment, how groups function when credibility in member expertise cannot be validated, and how expertise is coordinated. By demonstrating how transactive memory systems theory can be extended to the unique operating conditions of emergent response groups, we hope to inspire organization science researchers to accept the challenge of adapting their theories to study this important problem of our time.

Keywords: emergence, tranactive memory systems, coordinating catastrophes

JEL Classification: D70

Suggested Citation

Hollingshead, Andrea B. and Majchrzak, Ann and Jarvenpaa, Sirkka, Coordinating Expertise Among Emergent Groups Responding to Disasters (2007). Organization Science, Vol. 18, pp. 147-161, 2007 , Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1801533

Andrea B. Hollingshead (Contact Author)

USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism ( email )

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HOME PAGE: http://annenberg.usc.edu/Faculty/Communication%20and%20Journalism/HollingsheadA.aspx

University of Southern California - Marshall School of Business

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Los Angeles, CA California 90089
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Ann Majchrzak

University of Southern California - Marshall School of Business ( email )

701 Exposition Blvd
Los Angeles, CA California 90089
United States

Sirkka Jarvenpaa

University of Texas at Austin - Red McCombs School of Business ( email )

Austin, TX 78712
United States

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