Project Details


This project examines organizational processes associated with building stronger and more strategic communication networks to enhance the ability for organizations to adapt to significant changes wrought by disruptive events. The project is novel in its way to develop understanding of the characteristics of how organizations communicate and how information flows within and among organizations dealing with natural disasters. When communities experience disruptive events like natural disasters, the organizations that are part of the community also suffer. How do organizations recover in the short-term and long-term and what role does their recovery play in the community's recovery and resilience? While it seems obvious that organizations, such as businesses, civil organizations, and public agencies, would have a significant role, that role is not as well understood as it must be for the benefit of communities, organizations, and recovery efforts. The tendency is to focus on developing strategies for single organizations without sufficient consideration of the inter-organizational networks that are a pillar to the whole community. This work involves an innovative combination of qualitative interviews, participant observation, and social network analysis techniques to identify the key roles of brokers, isolates, and cliques in the immediate and long-term recovery of organizations within the community. The results will contribute to practical strategies for building organizational and community capacity in the aftermath of disruptive events. This work will also advance theory and method generally about interorganizational networks while developing the science of resilience using a network based approach.

Hurricane Harvey represented a significant and disruptive natural disaster that seriously affected business and community organizations around the Houston area. This project takes a network-based approach to understand organizational resilience against disruptive events, and how communication networks within and between organizations facilitate or hinder the immediate and long-term recovery from the disruptive event. Communicating through social networks and the way in which organizations are linked through their information sharing can inform national efforts to strengthen the ability of communities and organizations to function effectively in challenging circumstances. The project will use a mixed-method approach to characterize organizational communication characteristics. In particular, it will analyze existing organizational documents as one way to map out the basic social networks the organization employs to support information flows with key stakeholder groups. The research will then use in-situ observations and interviews with key organizational partners that make up stakeholder networks of impacted organizations to develop further understanding of resilience in terms of communication and network characteristics within and between organizations. Interviews with the stakeholders will also be used to determine the criterion of effective recovery. Network analysis will be conducted to link communication patterns with recovery outcomes.

Effective start/end date11/15/1710/31/18


  • National Science Foundation: $168,608.00


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