Organizational Functioning in Disaster: A Preliminary Report

Quarantelli, E. L.
Dynes, Russell R.
Haas, J. Eugene
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Disaster Research Center
In August, 1963, a Disaster Research Center (DRC) was established at Ohio State University. As one of its major research activities the Center initiated for the Office of Civil Defense a study focused on organizational functioning in community disasters. An attempt was to be made to arrive at an empirically grounded understanding of the involvement, operations and problems of emergency organizations in major natural catastrophes and other extreme stress situations. The research was to be conducted chiefly through the dispatching of field teams to gather their data primarily through systematic observations and interviews. Field studies of domestic disasters were to be used to make “in-depth” i.e., intensive studies of particular organizations. Foreign disasters were to provide comparative data and to serve as opportunities to examine alternate organizational and community procedures for coping with major emergencies. Within a five year period, the Center was not only to conduct such studies, but to produce a series of publications "with special emphasis on recommendations concerning the effective emergency operations of organizations and other matters pertinent to civil defense planners. This Status Report very briefly summarizes the work undertaken in the first three years of the study, discusses the kinds of research and analyses currently being undertaken, and lists the publications scheduled to be produced by the end of the five year period (i. e., July 31, 1968). The focus is almost exclusively on the field aspects of the study. Related tasks, such as the establishment of a disaster data repository, a summarization and synthesis of the disaster literature, the carrying out of laboratory simulations of organizational stress as a. supplement to an AFOSR study, and the exploration of the possibilities of field experiments, have been discussed in the annual general summary reports and are not further detailed in this report.
Organizational Functioning , Domestic Disasters , Community Emergencies