THE COMMUNICATION AND SOCIAL NETWORK FLOWS APPROACH FOR DISRUPTION PREPAREDNESS
Free (open access)
21 - 32
MARYA L. DOERFEL, JACK L. HARRIS
Resilience officers are an emerging profession who work on behalf of municipalities, cities, institutions, transportation hubs, businesses, etc. Their mission involves disaster preparedness, response, and management, in the hopes that their work minimizes the impacts of disruption. Their work is inherently communicative. Coordinating resilience involves local leaders, government agencies, response agencies and first responders, as well as the community’s local groups, non-profits, and businesses. These organizations are connected in networks that are dynamic – partnerships are activated and go dormant, the nature of the relationships evolve (e.g., from cooperative to competitive, friendly to adversarial), the overall system varies in terms of overall activity (i.e., densely to barely connected), and leadership can vary from highly centralized around one or a few key organizations to decentralized with various clusters of partners. A common theoretical dilemma in social networks is that different network structures offer different advantages and disadvantages. The advantages and disadvantages are often in tension with each other and dependent on the situation. Yet building and maintaining relationships is crucial to the efficacy of resilience work. Moreover, these relationships exist within larger stakeholder networks comprised of organizations that are nested in their own set of networks, adding complexity to the challenges of such work. These theoretical dilemmas mean that practitioners need to be more nuanced in understanding organizations and ways to communicate to build social networks as part of preparing for the inevitable disruption. In this paper, we take a communication and social network theory perspective to propose a FLOWS approach to managing resilience. We draw on internal organizing forms (e.g., bureaucratic; networked), social capital, and stakeholder theory as concepts that pertain to communication and information technology use. Together, these theoretical frames point to the FLOWS approach to action-oriented resilience organizing.
resilience, communication, social networks, social capital, bureaucracy, social media, communication and information technology, stakeholders