Kenniscentrum Maatschappij en Recht

The dynamics of power in disaster response networks


A major challenge for disaster scholars and policymakers is to understand the power dimension in response networks, particularly relating to collaboration and coordination. We propose a conceptual framework to study interests and negotiations in and between various civic and professional, response networks drawing on the concepts of “programming” and “switching” proposed by Manuel Castells in his work on the network society. Programming in disaster response refers to the ability to constitute response networks and to program/reprogram them in terms of the goals assigned to the network. Switching is the ability to connect different net-works by sharing common goals and combining resources. We employ these concepts to understand how the US Federal Emergency Management Agency organized its response in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy. Our conceptual framework can be used both by disaster scholars and policymakers to understand how networked power is constructed and utilized.

Reference Boersma, K., Ferguson, J., Groenewegen, P., & Wolbers, J. (2021). The dynamics of power in disaster response networks. Risk, Hazards & Crisis in Public Policy, 12(4), 418-433.
1 December 2021

Publication date

Dec 2021


Kees Boersma
Peter Groenewegen
Jeroen Wolbers


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