Crisis Management Policy and Hierarchical Networks
La Follette School of Public Affairs Working Paper Series No. 2005-022
38 Pages Posted: 12 Oct 2005
Date Written: Sept. 20, 2005
The contemporary public management literature portrays a world where the traditional functions of government are increasingly being coordinated by networks rather than hierarchies. Networks have particular characteristics that make them distinct from hierarchies and provide them with operational advantages. This paper suggests that in crisis situations a combination of the virtues of both networks and hierarchies are required. For most types of complex emergencies a network is necessary, because no single organization can comprehensively meet the challenge. However, the actors in this network must coordinate to act quickly, collectively and decisively, traits not normally associated with newly-created networks. The solution practiced in crisis management is to overlay a hierarchical structure on the network of actors involved. Network characteristics such as mutual trust remain important for the success of the response, but the actors find themselves operating within a clear chain of command that emphasizes authority and standard operating procedures. I illustrate the operation of one of these hierarchical networks in dealing with an exotic animal disease outbreak in California.
Keywords: network, hierarchy, emergency, crisis, management
JEL Classification: l22, l23
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation