Collaboration and individual performance during disaster response


Disasters occurring in the wake of extreme weather events are increasing in frequency and severity due to climate and anthropogenic changes and require urgent responses under uncertain and dynamic conditions. In these situations, multi-agency collaboration becomes integral to an effective response due to the need to coordinate actions across geographical scales, levels of authority and sectors of society. Consequently there is a need for more knowledge on how to enhance the effectiveness of collaborations in response to disasters. In this study we utilize extremely rare and comprehensive data on multi-stakeholder collaboration during the acute phase of two catastrophic wildfires to investigate performance in relation to four collaboration challenges: sharing information, conflict resolution, reaching agreement i.e. mutual understanding and commitment, on goals and working-methods, and coordinating activities. Our results suggest that agreement between collaborating actors is more important to individual performance than the coordination of activities, and that it is only when agreement exists that the ability to coordinate activities becomes highly important. This study allows, for the first time, insights into the detailed nuances of collaboration among individuals during rapidly evolving disaster situations. Importantly, our analysis suggests that focusing on enhancing agreement in the wake of disasters—and not only on improving coordination—could reduce the devastating effects that disasters have on people and ecosystems.


Link to centre authors: Bodin, Örjan, Guerrero, Angela
Publication info: Angela M. Guerrero, Örjan Bodin, Daniel Nohrstedt, Ryan Plummer, Julia Baird, Robert Summers. 2023. Collaboration and individual performance during disaster response. Global Environmental Change.


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