Redefining Disaster Preparedness.pdf - 629101...

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Management Communication Quarterly2016, Vol. 30(3) 333–361© The Author(s) 2016Reprints and permissions:sagepub.com/journalsPermissions.nav DOI: 10.1177/0893318916629101mcq.sagepub.comArticleRedefining Disaster Preparedness: Institutional Contradictions and Praxis in Volunteer Responder OrganizingJoshua B. Barbour1and Jacquelyn N. Manly2AbstractThe utility of disaster preparation efforts involving volunteers is axiomatic, but a poor understanding of volunteer responder organizing may waste volunteer effort or, worse, endanger response. Effectively integrating volunteer effort during response necessitates understanding how volunteers figure into preparation, but most disaster research is concerned with best practices for response not preparation itself. Insights regarding the management of the political, rhetorical, and organizational challenges of implementing and evaluating disaster preparation are also needed. This study investigated how volunteer disaster responders—volunteers and volunteer coordinators in multiple Citizen Emergency Response Teams and Medical Reserve Corps—negotiated contradictions among and within institutional logics relevant to disaster preparation to justify their efforts. Their accounts drew on institutional logics of preparationand the professionalto do so, and provided evidence of reflexivity about, mobilization of, and reconstruction of these logics—generative praxis that may enable innovation in disaster policy and preparation.1The University of Texas at Austin, TX, USA2Texas A&M University, College Station, TX, USACorresponding Author:Joshua B. Barbour, Department of Communication Studies, The University of Texas at Austin, 2504A Whitis Ave. (A1105), Austin, TX 78712-0115, USA. Email: [email protected]629101MCQXXX10.1177/0893318916629101Management Communication QuarterlyBarbour and Manlyresearch-article2016
334Management Communication Quarterly 30(3)Keywordsdisaster preparedness, volunteering, volunteer responders, institutional contradictions, praxisDisaster and crisis experts generally agree that preparation is key to effective disaster response (Perry, 2004; Seeger, 2006), but most organizations do little to plan for disasters (Ulmer, 2012). Effective preparation is difficult (McConnell & Drennan, 2006), and problems of preparation recur. We tend to learn the same lessons about disasters over and over despite efforts to address them (Donahue & Tuohy, 2006). They recur in part because of the political, rhetorical, and organizational character of preparation (Ulmer, 2012); however, disaster research and practice tends to focus on generating best practices for getting disaster response right through preparation(Seeger, 2006), not the problems of preparation itself(Perry, 2004). Focusing on the problems of preparation can help address its difficulties. Understanding how preparers justify their efforts can inform decisions about disaster preparation policymaking (Donahue & Tuohy, 2006; McConnell & Drennan, 2006; Ulmer, 2012). This study does so by examining the accounts of preparedness offered by volunteer responders from multiple volunteer responder organiza-

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