“Bureaucracy, meet catastrophe” Analysis of the tsunami disaster relief efforts and their implications for global emergency governance

“Bureaucracy, meet catastrophe” Analysis of the tsunami disaster relief efforts and their... Purpose – An analysis of the way the bureaucratic management system responded to the tsunami disaster of December 26, 2004 is used as an example to highlight the severe shortcomings of the bureaucratic model as a paradigm for responding to situations in which the magnitude of the system's task is overwhelmingly complex and the timing process is bounded by urgency. Design/methodology/approach – Evidence of the findings for this research is driven by primary references, namely news reports and web site information provided in the aftermath of the disaster. Findings – These reports from the tsunami disaster highlight the key problems of bureaucracies, including slow decision‐making, inability to absorb and process outside information, and escalation of commitment to failed courses of action. Research limitations/implications – Suggestions for future research are provided. Practical implications – It is this very requirement that may undermine all relief efforts when such a high magnitude event occurs. Originality/value – The tragic irony of this analysis is that most emergency relief organizations of the proper size and complexity to effectively deal with “shocking” events must work within the bureaucratic systems created by large federal relief organizations (such as FEMA) as the “price” for staying in operation. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png International Journal of Public Sector Management Emerald Publishing

“Bureaucracy, meet catastrophe” Analysis of the tsunami disaster relief efforts and their implications for global emergency governance

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Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
Copyright © 2006 Emerald Group Publishing Limited. All rights reserved.
ISSN
0951-3558
DOI
10.1108/09513550610650446
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Purpose – An analysis of the way the bureaucratic management system responded to the tsunami disaster of December 26, 2004 is used as an example to highlight the severe shortcomings of the bureaucratic model as a paradigm for responding to situations in which the magnitude of the system's task is overwhelmingly complex and the timing process is bounded by urgency. Design/methodology/approach – Evidence of the findings for this research is driven by primary references, namely news reports and web site information provided in the aftermath of the disaster. Findings – These reports from the tsunami disaster highlight the key problems of bureaucracies, including slow decision‐making, inability to absorb and process outside information, and escalation of commitment to failed courses of action. Research limitations/implications – Suggestions for future research are provided. Practical implications – It is this very requirement that may undermine all relief efforts when such a high magnitude event occurs. Originality/value – The tragic irony of this analysis is that most emergency relief organizations of the proper size and complexity to effectively deal with “shocking” events must work within the bureaucratic systems created by large federal relief organizations (such as FEMA) as the “price” for staying in operation.

Journal

International Journal of Public Sector ManagementEmerald Publishing

Published: Feb 1, 2006

Keywords: Bureaucracy; Stochastic processes; Tidal waves; Natural disasters; Management failures

References

  • Modelling and prediction in a complex world
    Batty, M.; Torrens, P.M.

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