Handbooks of Research on Public Policy series
Edited by Robert Geyer and Paul Cairney
Chapter 20: Complexity theory and collaborative crisis governance in Sweden
This chapter considers the relationship between adaptive capacity and the performance of local-level emergency preparedness collaborations in Sweden. Adaptive capacity is a critical resource for communities to prepare for, respond to and recover from various extreme events (Comfort et al., 2010; Norris et al., 2008; Paton and Johnston, 2006). Organizations and networks engaged in crisis planning need to prepare for a range of known and unknown contingencies, which require the development of generic capacities to learn, adjust and change. Emergency preparedness is typically characterized by substantial uncertainty regarding the nature and timing of events, and the viability of established structures and practices for response. In return, managers need to mobilize information and resources from multiple stakeholders in order to increase collective capacities to ‘bounce back’ and recover from extreme events. Crisis and emergency management provides a useful case for complexity research. In order to prepare effectively for various contingencies, actors need to cope with at least two sources of complexity related to problems and responses. First, the problems that managers face in this domain cover a range of known and unknown challenges. Most contingencies are routine events but some are complex emergencies, characterized by attributes that are ill-defined and largely unknown (Demchak, 2010; Handmer and Dovers, 2008; Nohrstedt, forthcoming).
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