International Challenges and Perspectives
Edited by Jeffrey A. Raffel, Peter Leisink and Anthony E. Middlebrooks
Chapter 10: Executive Involvement and Formal Authority in Government Information-Sharing Networks: The West Nile Virus Outbreak
10. Executive involvement and formal authority in government information-sharing networks: the West Nile virus outbreak J. Ramon Gil-Garcia, Theresa A. Pardo and G. Brian Burke INTRODUCTION In late summer and early fall of 1999 the United States experienced the first outbreak of West Nile virus (WNV) in the Western hemisphere. The first cases appeared in the New York City area; two and a half years later and 1800 miles away, the State of Colorado documented its first case. In both states the response required many new relationships to facilitate the sharing of required information; animal and human public health professionals unaccustomed to collaborating across traditional government boundaries came together with a mix of other public and private sector organizations representing both human and animal healthcare facilities and providers. Information-sharing and interorganizational collaboration emerged as lead strategies in both states. Recent research highlights the level of changes required to create the kind of high-functioning, cross-boundary capability necessary in these response efforts as being among the most complex, deep functional and institutional changes (Cook et al. 2004). Previous studies have identified the challenges to efforts to create this capability as ranging from data and technical incompatibility to the lack of institutional incentives to collaborate and the power struggles around multi-organizational settings (Gil-Garcia and Pardo 2005). Some of the challenges faced by response agencies were new. In particular government leaders faced new challenges resulting from the nature of the threat and the complex requirements of an interorganizational response. They needed to find ways...
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