Learning Under Uncertainty: Networks in Crisis Management
La Follette School Working Paper No. 2005-028,
34 Pages Posted: 13 Dec 2005
Date Written: December 2005
This paper examines the nature of learning in networks dealing with conditions of high uncertainty. I apply Koppenjan and Klijn's (2004) framework for understanding network uncertainty to an extreme example: an inter-organizational crisis taskforce dealing with an exotic animal disease. The paper identifies the basic difficulties involved in learning under crisis conditions. The taskforce had to learn most of the elements taken for granted in more mature structural forms - the nature of the structural framework in which it was working, how to adapt that framework, the role and actions appropriate for each individual, and how to deal with unanticipated problems. The network pursued this learning in a variety of ways. Most critically, the taskforce used standard operating procedures to provide a form of network memory, and a command and control structure to reduce institutional and strategic uncertainty.
Keywords: crisis, emergency, learning, ambiguity, uncertainty
JEL Classification: d81, h11, h70, l22
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation