Crisis Management Policy and Hierarchical Networks

La Follette School of Public Affairs Working Paper Series No. 2005-022

38 Pages Posted: 12 Oct 2005

See all articles by Donald P. Moynihan

Donald P. Moynihan

Georgetown University - McCourt School of Public Policy

Date Written: Sept. 20, 2005

Abstract

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

Moynihan, Donald P., Crisis Management Policy and Hierarchical Networks (Sept. 20, 2005). La Follette School of Public Affairs Working Paper Series No. 2005-022, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=817308 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.817308

Donald P. Moynihan (Contact Author)

Georgetown University - McCourt School of Public Policy ( email )

Old North, Suite 100
37th & O Streets NW
Washington, DC 20057
United States

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