Disaster response, collaborative disaster management, networks, disaster networks


Catastrophic disasters are different than routine disasters and managing them requires the mobilization of inter-organizational, inter-governmental, cross-sectoral and international humanitarian support. The role of the international community through International Nongovernmental Organizations (INGOs), and multi-lateral organizations such as the United Nations (UN) becomes imperative when the scale of the disaster is unprecedented and difficult for a country to manage on its own. The initial response and relief phase of managing disasters is one in which many agencies with different expertise, capacities, working mandates, resources, skills, working cultures and norms come together to coordinate and collaborate to provide timely response and relief services. Thus, the terrain of managing catastrophic disasters is complex and requires a deeper study to understand and delineate the factors shaping and facilitating collaborative response and relief efforts. This study examines the multi-level and multi-layered collaborative response networks present at the national-international level, provincial and district/local level of disaster response and interactions. In this research the nature and effectiveness of collaboration is being studied through a relevant case study of a catastrophic natural disaster, the 2010 Pakistan Floods. The phase of immediate response is explored primarily through Network Theory perspectives including supportive theoretical perspectives such as Social Capital, Resource Dependency, and Institutional Collective Action Theory perspectives that help to explain collaborative interactions in disaster response networks. This study explores and describes factors that influence (either facilitate or hinder) collaboration is disaster response networks. iv The key research questions for this study are: What factors facilitate and impede collaborative response to catastrophic disasters at the local, provincial, national and international levels? What are the differences and similarities in response systems at different levels? Additional questions address how leadership support (attributed to government and political leaders and organizations), institutional support (in the form of plans, international appeals of response, and development of relief funds to manage aid), network capacity of different organizations (programmatic and relational), nature of resource dependencies between responding agencies, and structural configurations of response systems impact the collaborative response in disasters. A case study method has been applied in this research. The 2010 Pakistan Floods response network/system is identified through content analysis of various newspapers, situation reports and after-action reports using the Social Network Analysis (SNA) method via UCINET Software 6.1. The actual response network is analyzed and compared with existing national disaster response plans to examine the effectiveness of collaborative response through centrality measures, clique analysis and visual display. This approach is supplemented with semistructured interviews of key institutional representatives that responded to the 2010 Floods. These organizations and institutions were primarily identified through the networks formulated via SNA. Findings and results from the analysis reflect that the response networks at each level of analysis differ both in structural aspects and also in functional aspects. The nature of the international-national response system is focused on mobilizing donor support and receiving and v managing aid, both in-kind and cash. Also a major role at the international and national level is to mobilize the UN cluster approach and focus on broader aims of response such as providing shelter and food to affected areas. Some of the factors identified as facilitating collaborative response were leadership of both national and international leaders, and availability of donor support and funds. At the provincial level of analysis, the Chief Minister of Punjab is playing a central and influential role and is partnering closely with the Armed Forces and local district administration. Interviews conducted of provincial level officials help to support the hypotheses concerning leadership support’s influence on collaborative response and also the role of institutional support in the form of creation of plans, and policies that help to mobilize quick funds and resources for relief. At the local level of response, networks are highly influenced by local conditions and local capacities of the district administration. Thus, there are diverse factors impacting each level of collaborative disaster response. All in all, leadership support, institutional support and network structural aspects are important variables that impact the effectiveness of collaborative response. Today policy makers are trying to figure out ways to collaborate successfully across sector boundaries for better and effective service delivery, both in the mundane operational tasks and in uncertain and complex situations such as disasters and catastrophic events. Thus, this research helps in expanding the literature on collaborative public management, collaborative emergency management, and network management. Also the frequency of natural disasters throughout the world demonstrate the need to study and examine factors that contribute to or hinder the effectiveness of inter-organizational response in disasters.


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Graduation Date





Kapucu, Naim


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Health and Public Affairs

Degree Program

Public Affairs; Public Administration








Release Date

June 2015

Length of Campus-only Access

1 year

Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)


Dissertations, Academic -- Health and Public Affairs, Health and Public Affairs -- Dissertations, Academic