Link to the University of Pittsburgh Homepage
Link to the University Library System Homepage Link to the Contact Us Form

Designing adaptive systems for disaster response and mitigation: A comparative analysis of organizational adaptation

Oh, Namkyung (2010) Designing adaptive systems for disaster response and mitigation: A comparative analysis of organizational adaptation. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

Primary Text

Download (3MB) | Preview


Operating under rapidly changing conditions, organizations face various challenges that can damage core competencies and collaborative partnerships that have been developed for normal operations. To address these challenges, organizations need to learn from previous events, develop relevant strategies, and seek to evolve in resilient ways. The critical task in designing adaptive systems is to determine the bases for the effective organizational adaptation. This study seeks to explore evidence of organizational learning, identify the most critical factors that facilitate organizational adaptation, develop strategies for change, and assess the effects of these strategies on the performance and evolution of the system. To achieve these purposes, this study applies a mixed approach of qualitative and quantitative methods including content analysis of newspaper articles and situation reports, social network analysis, and agent-based computational simulation. To explore processes of organizational learning, I conducted a comparative analysis of two hurricane response systems; Hurricane Katrina, 2005 and Hurricane Gustav, 2008. This analysis documented gaps in the performance of the two systems. The organizations in the Hurricane Katrina response systems suffered from a lack of personnel, plans, and equipment for the effective communication. Accordingly, they were unable to create a common knowledge base of operations and failed to allocate resources as requested. Evidence from organizational analysis documents that organizations in the Hurricane Gustav response system learned from the experiences of Hurricane Katrina and upgraded their performance in response operations in various ways. They invested significant resources and effort to improve organizational capacity in communication and strengthened their collaboration links with expected and spontaneous partners from public, private, and non-profit sectors. Based on findings from this analysis, I offer a set of policy implications for guiding effective organizational adaptation to changing conditions. First, organizations need to collaborate under strong leadership to develop trust that is critical to effective coordination and collaboration. To make effective use of established mutual trust, adaptive systems need to address the problem of turnover in major positions of organizations. Second, while organizations in the system work on the institutionalization of joint operations for the development of mutual trust among agencies, they also need to develop policies to retain experienced core personnel for effective collaboration with partners. Third, operations need to integrate advanced information technologies into their operations to support effective communication, knowledge management, and diffusion of organizational learning. Combined with the cultivation of experienced personnel, the integration of advanced information technology into disaster mitigation and response represents the construction of a socio-technical system. To build a socio-technical system for organizational adaptation, organizations need to focus on the technical design of advanced communication equipment and data management tools that facilitate the processing, transmitting, storing, and extracting of critical information both for enhanced performance and organizational learning. Further, they need to focus on the organizational training and education of strategic learning to develop more experienced and collaborative personnel. Based on accumulated experience and memory of collaboration, enhanced capacities, and reinforced partnerships, organizations in an adaptive system can achieve a creative mental leap to a new practice of action. Findings from this study document that organizations can successfully address challenges from rapidly changing conditions and eventually, evolve in a resilient form of adaptation.


Social Networking:
Share |


Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Oh, Namkyungnao2@pitt.eduNAO2
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairComfort, Louise Klkc@pitt.eduLKC
Committee MemberFoster, Angela Williamswilliamsfoster@gspia.pitt.eduAMF50
Committee MemberCoontz, Phyllis Dpcoontz@gspia.pitt.eduPCOONTZ
Committee MemberMadhavan, Ravirmadhavan@katz.pitt.eduRAM115
Date: 29 June 2010
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 14 January 2010
Approval Date: 29 June 2010
Submission Date: 21 May 2010
Access Restriction: 5 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 5 years.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Graduate School of Public and International Affairs > Public and International Affairs
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: complex adaptive systems; emergency management; organizational adaptation; hurricane; social network analysis
Other ID:, etd-05212010-085211
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:45
Last Modified: 19 Dec 2016 14:36


Monthly Views for the past 3 years

Plum Analytics

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item