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Effects of Networks on Learning during Emergency Events
Disaster Prevention and Management (2012)
  • Jafar Hamra, University of Sydney
  • Liaquat Hossain, University of Sydney
  • Christine Owen, University of Tasmania
  • Alireza Abbasi, University of Sydney
This paper aims to explore the inherent relationship between social networks and learning within the context of emergency management. We hypothesize using social network theory as a framework for analysis, that changes to interconnectedness of actors in their social network are implicated in the potential for those actors to learn and improvise in dynamically changing and emergent conditions. To test our hypotheses, we investigate survey data which was collected as part of a research study with the support of the Australian Bushfire Co-operative Research Centre (CRC). Results show that increases in actors’ involvement within the social emergency management network influences the ability of those actors to engage in learning-related work activity. This means that these actors are better able to adapt and improvise in complex emergency events. As an area of further research, it would be useful to apply the existing theoretical model to the context of another domain, preferably one that shares characteristics of uncertainty and unstable environments. Most existing studies of learning theory in human networks have focused on learning in situations requiring stable working relationships with no environmental uncertainties. In this paper, we argue that the designs of existing models are useful as a building block, yet flawed for application within the context of disaster management. By presenting a model of learning-related work activity, based on network connectedness, personnel within emergency services organizations can strengthen their capacity to be flexible and adaptable.
  • Social Networks; Learning; Adaptability; Emergency Management; Disaster; Bushfire
Publication Date
Citation Information
Jafar Hamra, Liaquat Hossain, Christine Owen and Alireza Abbasi. "Effects of Networks on Learning during Emergency Events" Disaster Prevention and Management (2012)
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