Inter-Organizational Design for Disaster Management: Cognition, Communication, Coordination and Control

Document Type : Risk Management


Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, University of Pittsburgh


The recurring pattern of failed governmental actions in response to major disasters compels a re-examination of the traditional organizational framework of command-and-control that has served as the basis for disaster planning and response actions in most nations of the world. The contrast between the top-down hierarchical control that is presumed in national emergency plans and the need for flexibility required in effective operations in rapidly changing disaster environments requires a fresh approach to emergency planning and action. This article focuses on the role of cognition of risk as the triggering action that leads to effective communication, coordination, and emerging collective control as a community learns to manage risk more effectively in collaboration with other organizations and wider jurisdictional authorities.