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DESIGNING ADAPTIVE SYSTEMS FOR DISASTER MITIGATION AND RESPONSE



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Chapter Three DESIGNING ADAPTIVE SYSTEMS FOR DISASTER MITIGATION AND RESPONSE THE ROLE OF STRUCTURE Louise K Comfort Namkyung Oh Gunes Ertan and Steve Scheinert Introduction The concept of resilience defined here as the capacity for collective action in the face of unexpected extreme events that shatter infrastructure and disrupt normal operating conditions is characterized by experienced researchers as involving the mental processes of sensemaking Weick 1995 improvisation Mendon a Beroggi and Wallace 2001 innovation Demchak Chapter 4 this book and problem solving Comfort 1994 Each of these processes involves the exercise of mental skills that depend upon keen observation and access to real time information in changing conditions Together they represent the wider interpretation of resilience that is discussed earlier in Chapters One and Two This chapter argues that a further process cognition is central to increasing resilience in the capacity of communities to manage recurring risk and to respond to and recover from disaster Interpreting cognition in terms of its contribution to resilience the main theme of this book requires re conceptualizing the relationship between perception and action and determining when in the sequence of an organization s performance resilient behavior occurs and what factors contribute to its emergence in practice Cognition in the context of disaster is defined as the capacity to recognize the degree of emerging risk to which a community is exposed and to act on that information When risk is not 59 recognized by those who are legally responsible for protecting communities and no action or inadequate action is taken the situation can rapidly escalate into a threatening imminent disaster Retrospective analysis of the response to an actual disaster can provide insight into the role of cognition among responders to disaster operations With a clear focus on the role of cognition we reframe the concept of intergovernmental crisis management as



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