Inderscience Publishers

Reliability-seeking networks in complex emergencies

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The purpose of this article is to identify major coordination challenges during complex emergencies, and discuss some theoretical implications of these challenges. The huge increase in non-governmental humanitarian organisations and also military forces involved in emergencies during the last 15 years has put professional coordination on top of the international humanitarian agenda. The main coordination challenge highlighted in recent literature is that lack of authority to coordinate or command hampers decision making. Furthermore, the large number of actors hampers coordination due to competition, different mandates and reluctance to share information. Seeking reliability in coordination within the high-hazard and rapidly changing environment in a complex emergency should rely on resiliency (flexibility and diversity). Flexibility and especially diversity is hard to obtain for one single multi-purpose organisation in the hostile environment of a complex emergency. Thus, a network structure is preferable for humanitarian relief operations.

Keywords: reliability, resilience, anticipation, network structure, emergency management, complex emergencies, compound disasters, coordination, decision making, disaster management

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