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Hurricane Katrina: Determining Management Approach

There are various approaches to organizational change; among them, we can mark out hierarchical and network models, both of them can be used effectively under certain circumstances. In this paper, we need to discuss their advantages and disadvantages in connection with emergency management. In particular, we may focus on such disasters as Hurricane Katrina, because it demonstrates that the functioning of NIMS (National Incident Management System) still leaves much to be desired.

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On the whole, we should say that command or hierarchy is more appropriate when swift actions must be taken; such cases include military conflicts, technological catastrophes, or natural disasters. The major benefit of this method is that it enables governmental agencies to reorganize themselves quickly and act according to the situation (Anderson et al, 2004, p 5). Another positive aspect of this technique is the ability to coordinate the actions of the participants and most importantly, the opportunity to obtain the most up-to-date and relevant information. But there are significant drawbacks especially in comparison with the network model; first, non-governmental agencies cannot fully participate (Waugh et al, 2006, p 133).

As it has been noted before, all institutions are subordinate to the higher authority, and this significantly hinders the decision-making process, especially if they are isolated from the central leadership. In sharp contrast, the network approach helps to establish effective cooperation among public and private organizations. Probably, it is more prudent to combine these techniques to curb the effects of a calamity like Hurricane Katrina.

To prevent scenarios similar to the events, which occurred in New Orleans, it is of crucial importance to utilize adaptive management. It is based on a constant assessment of the situation and simultaneous decision-making. This method is very helpful for handling and preventing natural disasters. In this case, the officials should first analyze possible threats or risks of living in a certain area, such as earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, forest fires, and forth. Secondly, the government has to predict peoples behavior in an emergency situation. How exactly can they behave? Are there any alternatives variants?

The action plan is developed only after; the management has explored all possible outcomes (Waugh et al, 2006, 138). Furthermore, in accordance with this approach, the data must be always updated. Provided that adaptive management had been used in New Orleans, many deaths could have been averted. At that moment, rescuers could not efficiently help the victims, because they did not take into account peoples responses. Subsequently, this lack of knowledge led to discord and even a waste of invaluable time. Overall, adaptive management helps to raise the level of readiness.

It is very difficult to determine which management approach will be most applicable for handling a situation similar to Hurricane Katrina. As we have pointed out earlier each of them has positive and negative sides. Perhaps, we need to create an amalgam of these techniques.

For example, no one can deny that a higher authority is needed, and this is a characteristic feature of the hierarchical model. Moreover, the governmental and non-governmental agencies have to establish flow and exchange of information, they also have to develop similar strategies, and this is a peculiarity of the network approach (Senior et al, 2006, p 78). Finally, to diminish adverse consequences of natural disasters, the government must evaluate dangers and formulate a plan which could consider peoples reactions and behavior. Unless it is done, such tragedy may occur again.

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Anderson, A., Compton, D., Mason, T. (2004). Managing in a Dangerous World – The National Incident Management System. Engineering Management Journal, 16(4). Web.

Barbara Senior, Jocelyne Fleming (2006). Organizational change. Pearson Education.

Waugh, W., Streib, G. (2006). Collaboration and Leadership for Effective Emergency Management. Public Administration Review, 66(p. 131). Web.

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