In this volume the author analyses how modern organizations and communities can function effectively under uncertain, dynamic conditions. With an analysis of responses to earthquakes , Professor Comfort shows how communities and organizations cope with dynamic and unpredictable events. Drawing on the concept of shared risk, this work examines the self-organizing processes by which communities act voluntarily in their own interest to mitigate and reduce that risk. Placing shared risk within a theoretical framework that is both appealing and consistent with disaster situations, Louise Comfort presents policy-relevant analysis of response systems and how risk can be managed in complex, adaptive systems. Part 1 presents the practical, theoretical and methodological issues involved in the study of shared risk, and sets this problem in the global context of seismic risk. Part 2 presents a comparative analysis of eleven cases of rapidly evolving response systems following earthquakes. The analysis documents the emergence of self-organizing processes after each disaster in very different technical, organizational, economic, political, and cultural conditions.
The cases are presented briefly in subsets defined by different proportions of structure, flexibility, timeliness of information, and capacity for spontaneous action. Part 3 Compares the findings from four classes of response systems, and presents a preliminary model for a sociotechnical system to mitigate seismic risk and facilitate response when earthquake occur. Examining the relationship between information, information theory and theories of organizational adaptation, this book will be applicable to a wide range of organizational change efforts, as well as being a strong contribution to the literature on earthquake management. It would be of interest for academics working in the fields of organization and public policy as well as economists, political scientists and policy analysts interested in the concept of shared risk.