Scholarly article on topic 'Reframing Coordination Challenges for Public-Private Partnerships in Disaster Preparedness'

Reframing Coordination Challenges for Public-Private Partnerships in Disaster Preparedness Academic research paper on "Economics and business"

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Abstract of research paper on Economics and business, author of scientific article — Rachel A. Quero

Abstract Disaster preparedness invariably needs effective coordination among stakeholders. This paper explores several dimensions useful for examining some current issues and opportunities in coordinating public-private effort in disaster preparedness based on the Philippine experience. More specifically, the structural, political, human behavior, and symbolic frames of coordination are discussed. The study has implications for improving the conduct of disaster preparedness in the future from the standpoint of managerial effectiveness.

Academic research paper on topic "Reframing Coordination Challenges for Public-Private Partnerships in Disaster Preparedness"

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Procedía - Social and Behavioral Sciences 57 (2012) 440 - 447

International Conference on Asia Pacific Business Innovation and Technology Management

Reframing Coordination Challenges for Public-Private Partnerships in Disaster Preparedness

Rachel A. Quero *

Management and Organization Department, De La Salle University, 2401Taft Ave., Malate, Manila 1008, Philippines


Disaster preparedness invariably needs effective coordination among stakeholders. This paper explores several dimensions useful for examining some current issues and opportunities in coordinating public-private effort in disaster preparedness based on the Philippine experience. More specifically, the structural, political, human behavior, and symbolic frames of coordination are discussed. The study has implications for improving the conduct of disaster preparedness in the future from the standpoint of managerial effectiveness.

© 2012 Published by Elsevier Ltd. Selection and/or peer-review under responsibility of the Asia Pacific BusinessInnovationandTechnologyManagementSociety(APBITM)

Keywords: disaster preparedness, coordination, public-private partnerships

1. Introduction

In the Philippines, disaster research in the academe is evolving as a number of local universities have actively been pursuing disaster -related studies over the past years. This may be due to the vulnerability of the country to natural hazards, such as typhoons, earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanic eruptions [1]; [2]. The growing awareness of climate change impacts, plus the damage brought by strong typhoons that hit the country recently have encouraged public and private sector efforts in disaster risk management.

Disaster management programs involve a complex web of institutional linkages. These include the participation of national and local government agencies, businesses and private sector associations, non-government organizations, volunteer groups, the academe, media, and foreign funding agencies. Some local communities affected by or vulnerable to disaster risks natural hazards have also formed associations for disaster preparedness. Coordination among these organizations, therefore, remains a serious challenge for stakeholders involved.

To date, institutional efforts have underscored the value of disaster preparedness. This study attempted to reframe or view from different perspectives the coordination issues as experienced by public and private sectors who jointly implement disaster preparedness programs. The study has

1877-0428 © 2012 Published by Elsevier Ltd. Selection and/or peer-review under responsibility of the Asia Pacific Business Innovation and Technology

Management Society (APBITM)


implications for designing and refining strategies and programs that focus on multisectoral approaches to disaster preparedness.

2. The Problem

Institutional arrangements for designing strategies and implementing programs on disaster risk management in the Philippines have been well discussed in local researches, conferences, and seminars, such as those focusing on community-based and sustainable development approaches (as found in [3]; [4]; [5]). The community-based approach emphasizes the active role and voluntary participation of local communities in shaping the progress and outcomes of disaster management [6]. Participatory approaches to disaster risk assessments have also been well discussed in foreign research studies (for example, in [7] and [8]).

A cursory review of the abovementioned research studies seemingly point to substantial evidence of coordination issues prevailing among the institutions working together in disaster management. However, as may be gleaned from those studies, it appears that more thorough discussions are required to explore further on why coordination problems have occurred. In response to this research gap, this study was conducted to particularly focus on the following questions: What are the different perspectives for understanding coordination issues in disaster preparedness that involve public-private sector joint initiatives? How would these perspectives help contribute to the design and implementation of disaster preparedness programs?

3. Analytical Framework

Several organizational studies have applied or extended organizational theories that appeared to shed light on management-related problems in disaster risk management programs. Management figured in the lessons learned from actual experiences in disasters. For instance, it was pointed out that the debacle on Hurricane Katrina in the U.S. in 2005 was attributed to organizational and leadership issues [9]). An empirical study [10] provided implications of the transactive memory systems theory for understanding the dynamics of coordination among emergent disaster response groups composed of members from different organizations. The theory pertains to knowledge coordination in groups. The application of the theory was extended by demonstrating how expertise was coordinated among the different institutional members (i.e., from relief missions, private sector organizations, and private citizens). Another work 11] applied the sociological theory to explain and interpret behavior, social processes, and social interactions among groups and organizations for understanding and managing disasters. Illustrative cases were discussed for different approaches, problems, and challenges encountered by various groups and institutions doing joint initiatives in disaster management.

A conceptual study recently done by this researcher applied the McKinsey 7S model for developing a framework for building skills in disaster risk management for businesses [12]. The study aimed to promote disaster management among businesses by identifying the skills required for them to undertake disaster risk prevention, mitigation, response, and recovery. The framework for skills in disaster risk management pertained to seven organizational elements, namely, "strategy", "structure", "systems", "staff", "skills", "style", and "shared values".

In this study, the coordination issues as experienced in joint initiatives of public and private sectors in disaster preparedness were approached through specific perspectives distilled from a review of past research studies. More specifically, the coordination problems and opportunities in disaster preparedness were viewed in terms structural, political, human behavior, and symbolic frames. [16]

4. Objectives

The objectives of this study are the following:

• To analyze coordination issues among public-private partnerships in disaster preparedness from the

structural, political, human behavior, and symbolic frames or perspectives

• To generate implications for future research related to the design and implementation of disaster

preparedness programs

5. Methodology

This qualitative study serves as a follow-through, analytical work that builds on the results of an earlier empirical study conducted by this researcher, entitled "Enhancing and Harmonizing Institutional Support to Businesses for Disaster Preparedness and Resilience" [13]. The data used for this study came from the results of that action research undertaken by this author. That study identified the areas for enhancing coordination and complementation among the different institutions that support businesses in becoming more disaster prepared and resilient. Another positive development was that an article written by this author about that same study was published in a newspaper column in Manila, entitled "Linkages in Disaster Management", and this article is now posted in Preventionweb [14], an international website on disaster management under the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UN ISDR).

4.1. Data Collection

The empirical data used for this analytical study came from the results of key informant interviews conducted by this researcher for the heads or key decision-makers from different institutions involved in disaster management. In that earlier study, this researcher conducted face-to-face interviews of the key informants at their respective offices. A copy of the highlights of the personal interviews conducted were given by this researcher to the key informants, for their feedback and comments.

As such, this analytical study on reframing of coordination issues is based on the data and findings generated from the previous empirical research conducted by this author.

4.2 Research Participants

To provide the research context for this analytical study, Table 1 shows a list of specific institutions that provided key informants as sources of data. As shown in the table, the selected institutions represented government agencies, private sector associations/non-government organizations (NGOs), media, academe, and a foreign donor. The table also shows the areas for institutional linkages where coordination issues emanated from.

Table 1. List of Institutions Covered and the Areas for Linkages Among Them

Research Participants Disaster Disaster Risk Disaster Relief

Awareness and Financing and Recovery

Preparedness Training

Government Agencies

• PAGASA (Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration)

• PHIVOLCS (Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology)

• MMDA (Metro Manila Development Authority)

Private Sector Associations/NGOs

• CNDR (Corporate Network for Disaster Response)

• PLIA (Philippine Life Insurance Association)

• PIRA (Philippine Insurers and Reinsurers Association)

• Leverage International (Consultants) Inc.

Management Policy and Attitudinal Change on Disasters

• ICD (Institute of Corporate Directors)

• MAP (Management Association of the Philippines)

• PSDMN (Private Sector Disaster Management Network)

• KBP (Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster sa Pilipinas)


• DLSU (De La Salle University) Center for Engineering and Research

• DLSU (De La Salle University) College of Computer Studies

• DLSU (De La Salle University) Department of Psychology

Foreign Donor

• ADB (Asian Development Bank) Private Sector Division, Sustainable Development Department

6. Results and Discussions

From an analysis of key informant interviews conducted by this researcher, the challenges in coordination as experienced by specific institutions jointly involved in disaster preparedness may be viewed in the light of structural, political, human behavior, and symbolic frames, as discussed below.

6.1. Structural Frame

Coordination mechanisms among the different institutions involved are embedded in Republic Act 10121, known as the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Law that came into effect in 2009 [7]. At the national level, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) serves as a multisectoral body in charge of policies and programs, headed by an Undersecretary under the Office of Civil Defense, Department of National Defense (OCD-DND). Under the law, all provinces, cities, and municipalities must have their own counterpart Local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council within their respective jurisdictions. However, the extent to which local Disaster Management offices are well organized to act decisively on disaster preparedness programs would vary across different areas. For instance, the head of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) observed that they sometimes encounter varying responses from some local government executives for management decisions taken on specific typhoon warnings.

Structural arrangements also include coordinating technological capabilities. As pointed out by the head of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS), there is a need to further encourage the use of existing geo-hazard maps among local government officials and business establishments. As such, the technology transfer available for mapping site vulnerabilities, such as for identifying the flood prone areas and earthquake faults, remains to be fully adopted by local end-users. This implies that while a government set-up could provide required resources in disaster risk assessment, the final strategic move to act on disaster information rests on the end-users themselves, namely, local government officials, business owners, and the local people in communities.

Formal partnership arrangements have been instrumental in facilitating coordination, such as entering into written Memorandum of Agreements (MOAs) among relevant parties. A fine example is an existing MOA formed by government agencies, private sector groups (i.e., the Philippine Life Insurance Association (PLIA) and the Philippine Insurers and Reinsurers Association (PIRA), and the ADB Private Sector Development for developing an innovative micro insurance facility for disaster risk financing. With respect to formal written agreements among disaster-related institutions, an area

identified for further improvement was translating the finer points of those agreements into concrete projects that could be replicated in many suitable areas. For instance, according to the Management Association of Philippines (MAP) representative, their group has continually searched for other local government units capable and willing to adopt their intertwined programs on climate change adaptation, sustainable livelihood practices, and disaster preparedness trainings for target communities.

In terms of coordinating with private companies, it appears that small and medium businesses (SMEs) have not yet been giving enough attention to disaster risk management, as perceived by the head of the Institute for Corporate Directors (ICD). By comparison, many large companies have taken steps in mitigating disaster risks. It would be more prudent, according ICD head, that the target priority groups to tap for coordinating disaster preparedness among SMEs would be enterprises with relatively less elbow room for committing mistakes, such as rural banks and cooperatives.

6.2. Political Frame

Authority and leadership turfs among institutional members could sometimes spawn tensions in coordinating disaster preparedness programs. An agreement on "who is in charge" is critical during emergency situations. While specific "command centers" are established during disaster events, a problem may sometimes occur in coordination. For example, a Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) representative cited an incident during a particular typhoon emergency response when they cleared up lines of authority in coordinating with some members of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) operating at the local level. This was due to the variability in the amount of calamity funds readily available to affected areas that required quick emergency response.

Empowerment of the local people is paramount in disaster preparedness. This coordinative role was well taken up by the Citizen's Network for Disaster Response (CNDR), which did pioneering work in disaster preparedness together with corporate employees and residents surrounding the company sites. In the academe, the De La Salle University (DLSU) College of Computer Studies faculty and students have been working closely with local government units and village folk to improve communication and information on disaster preparedness. Their work involves, for instance, translating technical terms in disaster warnings into a form more clearly understood by the local folk.

The political frame for coordination includes how companies view social responsibility for the outside community. Along this line, the CNDR head stated that despite their current extensive network, many more companies remain not yet committed to allot time and resources for helping outside communities cope better with disaster risks. As surmised by the CNDR head, companies ask themselves on whether it is within their role to do humanitarian work on disaster preparedness, or within the responsibility of government and civil society groups. The answer would lie on each company policy and the socio-political consciousness of the corporate leadership.

6.3 Human Behavior Frame

Motivation, skills, norms, attitudes, and values influence coordination among stakeholders in disaster preparedness. Motivation affects the scope and level of volunteerism in disaster preparedness programs. The Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) official cited a group of medical professionals, university professors, and company representatives who formed a volunteer association to undergo preparedness training for a flood prone area in Manila. There are eight (8) identified flood centers in Metro Manila, which the MMDA calls "bayanihan" zones (the Filipino term "bayanihan" refers to the spirit of voluntarily helping other people) to encourage more volunteers in training for flood preparedness.

The need to stir up volunteerism in disaster preparedness was underscored by most of the institutions interviewed. According to head of the Citizen Network for Disaster Response (CNDR), a more practical way to identify volunteers for disaster preparedness would be to choose areas where natural disasters have previously occurred. The reason is that people who have suffered from natural disasters would likely be the ones more cooperative in participating in preparedness programs. An

example given was the high enthusiasm in disaster preparedness programs showed in Bicol Province, which is frequently visited by strong typhoons yearly.

Human resource skills are critical in designing and implementing contingency plans for emergencies. The CNDR head pointed to difficulties in coordinating the availability of experts who could be tapped for training on preparing Business Continuity Plans (BCPs) for businesses. A Business Continuity Plan pertains to "series of procedures to restore normal operations following a disaster -with maximum speed and minimal impact on operations" [15]. The need for private sector to expand their skills in preparing BCPs was stressed by the head of Philippine Insurers and Reinsurers Association (PIRA). According to PIRA, the BCPs must adopt a "more entrepreneurial risk management mindset". Current BCPs often focus on information and physical systems, such that they tend to lack financial aspects, particularly, cash flow or money handling.

Meanwhile, coordination for skills transfer in disaster preparedness has been helped by the government's "balik scientist" program, wherein the De La Salle University Center for Engineering and Sustainable Development Research (DLSU-CESDR) submitted a proposal to the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) to allow a Filipino expert based in the U.S. to visit the Philippines and train local professionals on the application of a model that assesses the impact of disasters to specific sites. Meanwhile, local norms have influenced coordinating psycho-social interventions in the aftermath of disasters. With respect to mental health interventions, especially in the rural areas, there is a current stigma or perceptions among some local folk that the terms "mental health" and "psychosocial aid" connotes "mental illness". These findings were from volunteer faculty members from the De La Salle University (DLSU) Department of Psychology, who provided psycho-social support to survivors of recent typhoon calamities in several parts of the Philippines.

People's attitudes toward disasters also impinge on coordination efforts. The head of the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) emphasized the need for a proper mindset on natural disasters. For instance, an individual must reflect on choosing whether to become either a victim or a responder during an actual disaster event. In disaster preparedness, people's attitudes would also account for the difference between "ignorance" and "ignoring", according to MMDA representative.

6.4 Symbolic Frame

The symbolic frame pertains to more subtle or not easily observed mechanisms or abstractions that provide meaning to people, and which, therefore, influence their behavior. An example is organizational culture, which affect coordination in disaster preparedness programs. Organizational culture influences decision-making processes, crisis management styles, conflict resolution, and consensus building, which affect how people participate in disaster preparedness programs. As such, "best practices" in disaster preparedness programs needs careful thought. In this regard, the Kapisanan ng Brodkaster sa Pilipinas have lauded government-sponsored workshops that encourage media's active participation in disaster preparedness programs. Private consulting groups, such as Leverage International, have also been organizing conferences on disaster preparedness that focus on different organizational strategies of various groups.

Top management members are seen as role models for advocating disaster preparedness. In this regard, coordination for disaster preparedness has received a boost from the institutional leaders interviewed in this research. These could be gleaned from the range and depth of their current and proposed programs on disaster preparedness. For instance, the head of the Private Sector Disaster Management Network (PSDMN) has been effectively promoting and implementing projects on disaster management trainings, climate change adaptation, sustainable production, and green technology.

The family as a symbolic unit has been also recognized as an important mechanism in coordinating disaster preparedness, especialy to a wider audience. Private sector associations, such as the Private Sector Disaster Management Network (PSDMN), have been advocating the participation of family members in corporate-sponsored trainings in disaster preparedness.

7. Conclusion and Implications for Future Research

The complexity of coordination issues, problems, and opportunities confronting different institutions engaged in joint or overlapping programs in disaster preparedness were analyzed in terms of the structural frame, political frame, human behavior frame, and symbolic frame. Each of these perspectives offered a unique view to address the challenges in the coordination of disaster preparedness programs. At the same time, the different perspectives provided a more balanced and multi-faceted picture of the realities in coordinating disaster preparedness programs, particularly in Philippine setting. Reframing or putting within different perspectives the coordination challenges provided a useful approach for identifying potential or alternative solutions to strengthen linkages among institutions in disaster preparedness.

The study has implications for future research that delve deeper on impact of organizational behavior to the performance of disaster risk management programs. The results of the study seem to point out the need to explore the human dimension -- particularly, the psychological and sociological aspects of disaster management. This is important considering that people's attitudes, beliefs, norms, and values with respect to disaster events are critical for changing mindsets and encouraging positive actions geared toward a more proactive, rather than reactive approach to confront the uncertainties and potential harm brought by natural disasters.


The author wishes to thank the Management and Organization Department and the Ramon V. del Rosario College of Business for encouraging the conduct of this study. Most especially, the author expresses her thanks to all research participants from the different institutions covered by this study, as follows: Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA); Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS); Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA); Corporate Network for Disaster Response (CNDR); Philippine Life Insurance Association (PLIA); Philippine Insurers and Reinsurers Association (PIRA); Leverage International (Consultants) Inc.; Institute of Corporate Directors (ICD); Management Association of the Philippines (MAP); Private Sector Disaster Management Network (PSDMN); Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster sa Pilipinas (KBP); Asian Development Bank (ADB) Private Sector Division, Sustainable Development Department; De La Salle University (DLSU) Center for Engineering and Research; DLSU College of Computer Studies; DLSU Department of Psychology.


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