Collaborative Networking, Environmental Shocks, and Organizational Performance: Evidence From Hurricane Rita
In examining school performance after a natural disaster, this study explores the benefits of bringing governmental and non-governmental actors together.
Sangyub Ryu and Morgen S. Johansen
International Public Management Journal
Volume 20, Issue 2, 2017
Whether collaborative networking for disaster preparedness mitigates the negative effect a natural disaster has on organizational performance is the subject of this research. Collaborative networks are defined as "a set of governmental and non-governmental actors that act together in order to achieve public goods, services, or values that cannot be provided by a single governmental organization (and non-governmental organizations are unable or unwilling to provide the public good in the desired quantities)." This study specifically examines how collaborative networking impacted school performance in Texas as reported by superintendents after Hurricane Rita in 2005.
The authors measured collaborative networking "by counting the number of key actors relevant to disaster preparedness with whom the superintendent holds regularly scheduled meetings: police, fire department, and first responders; government relief and welfare organizations; nonprofit and relief organizations; local/community/religious organizations; other school districts; and business organizations."
The study confirms that collaborative networking can moderate the negative impact of a natural disaster on organizational performance. The benefits of collaborative networking include building and sustaining relationships with suppliers, stakeholders, clients and other agencies to foster ties to "acquire resources, reduce uncertainty, buffer shocks, and attain goals. Managers also engage in collaborative networking to learn and share explicit and tacit knowledge."
Why this matters to practitioners:
The findings suggest that managers can act in advance to protect core missions of an organization from uncertain environmental shocks by networking with emergency-relevant actors on a regular basis. This pertains not just to natural disasters but to preparing for any unpredictable external shock to an organization. However, the authors note the challenge is that both the public and public managers are unable to take stock of the efficacy of these steps until an emergency actually occurs. In this sense, emergency management requires a leap of faith on the part of the public and a commitment to its responsibility to protect the public on the part of government.