A Meta-Synthesis of Emergency Network Management Strategies and Analysis of Hurricane Katrina

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Date

2008-06-20

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Virginia Tech

Abstract

Meta-synthesis is an approach to synthesize qualitative research results. Originally proposed in the medical field and in education, this approach helps to advance current knowledge by generating a new interpretive synthesis. Since current research practices and knowledge development in emergency management is excessively divergent, there has been a need for a synthesis of knowledge from practice and research. One of the main arguments of this study is that the need is met by this study of a meta-synthesis.

In this research, I suggested that many research results dealing with the issue of how to improve the performance of emergency management can be integrated into strategies for network management in emergencies. I used the term strategies in a much more generalized way to capture the idea of managerial/behavioral skills, plans, and insights for emergency management. The meta-synthesis was conducted from a keyword search, surveys, and expert interviews, which identified representative studies in emergency response. The review process of the representative studies is captured in a two-by-two matrix (intervention point axis and planning-improvisation axis) as a way of presenting the meta-synthesis results.

This study then, turned to an analysis of reports of the Hurricane Katrina response using the meta-synthesis results. Qualitative content analysis was used as a method for the analysis. Reports from the White House, the House of Representatives, and the Senate are the target documents of the analysis. While conducting the analysis, I argued that the attempt of interpreting the failures of Katrina response into the failures of network management strategies provides clearer understandings regarding what went wrong and what was lacking. Furthermore, I argued that the way of thinking attempted in the analysis is a constructive one in that it provides an instructive action agenda for future disasters by connecting lessons learned to the strategies for emergency management.

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Keywords

emergency management, network management strategy, emergent network, Hurricane Katrina, meta-synthesis

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