Communication Under Fire: The Role of Embeddedness in the Emergence and Efficacy of Disaster Response Communication Networks

Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, July 2014

24 Pages Posted: 31 Oct 2014

See all articles by Branda Nowell

Branda Nowell

North Carolina State University

Toddi A. Steelman

University of Saskatchewan

Date Written: July 25, 2014

Abstract

Communication networks among responders are critical to effective coordination and information transfer across agencies active in a disaster response. Using the theory of embeddedness, we investigate how aspects of relational and institutional embeddedness influence the emergence and efficacy of interactions among responding agencies using network data from three significant wildfire events in the wildland/urban interface. For this study, relational embeddedness is investigated as the degree of familiarity between two responders before the incident. Institutional embeddedness is explored in terms of nesting within shared affiliations and common roles. Our findings suggest that both relational and institutional embeddedness significantly shape the disaster communication network during an incident, but relational embeddedness appears to play a stronger role. Further, the most problematic interactions appear to occur among institutionally embedded responders who do not know each other. Consequently, knowing something about relational and institutional embeddedness within the network of responders before an incident provides insight into what the communication network will look like when a disaster occurs. Findings also provide insights for how we might mitigate risk for problematic information flow and coordination during the incident.

Suggested Citation

Nowell, Branda and Steelman, Toddi A., Communication Under Fire: The Role of Embeddedness in the Emergence and Efficacy of Disaster Response Communication Networks (July 25, 2014). Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, July 2014. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2472145

Branda Nowell

North Carolina State University ( email )

Hillsborough Street
Raleigh, NC 27695
United States

Toddi A. Steelman (Contact Author)

University of Saskatchewan ( email )

School of Environment and Sustainability
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan S7N 5A7
Canada

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