Flirting with Disaster: Public Management in Crisis Situations

Flirting with Disaster: Public Management in Crisis Situations

Flirting with Disaster: Public Management in Crisis Situations

Flirting with Disaster: Public Management in Crisis Situations

Synopsis

"Flirting with Disaster is the first thorough examination of government successes and failures in responding to natural disaster situations. The author contrasts the bureaucratic principles that dominate governmental activity with the disruptive effects of disaster and the forms of human behavior that emerge during disaster situations. By comparing case studies of Hurricane Hugo, Hurricane Andrew, the Loma Prieta earthquake, and the 1990 floods in South Carolina, the author is able to identify the factors that contribute to effective response to disasters and the conditions under which relatively minor crises may lead to system breakdown. The book looks at an extremely important but previously unexamined area of public administration and public policy; presents a general theory of governmental performance in natural disaster situations; identifies factors contributing to government success or failure in coping with disasters; offers fresh insights into how the government can improve its response in disaster situations; and integrates insights from emergency management studies, agenda-building research, and the study of collective behavior." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Excerpt

The M.E. Sharpe series Bureaucracies, Public Administration, and Public Policy is designed as a forum for the best work on bureaucracy and its role in public policy and governance. Although the series is open with regard to approach, methods, and perspectives, especially sought are three types of research. First, the series hopes to attract theoretically informed, empirical studies of bureaucracy. Public administration has long been viewed as a theoretical and methodological backwater of political science. This view persists despite a recent accumulation of first-rate research. The series seeks to place public administration at the forefront of empirical analysis within political science. Second, the series is interested in conceptual work that attempts to clarify theoretical issues, set an agenda for research, or provide a focus for professional debates. Third, the series seeks manuscripts that challenge the conventional wisdom about how bureaucracies influence public policy or the role of public administration in governance.

Flirting with Disaster: Public Management in Crisis Situations breaks new theoretical and empirical ground. A truism of public administration is that bureaucracies handle large-scale tasks of a routine nature especially well. For effective performance, political elites need merely to set clear goals, provide sufficient resources, and let bureaucracy develop its own routines and expertise. What the field of public administration does not know much about is how to manage catastrophic events. Professor Schneider offers the first comprehensive look at the process of managing natural disasters. The management task is made even more complex by a federal system that requires that local governments, which generally lack the experience, be in the front line of managing disasters while the federal bureaucrats, who have a great deal of expertise, are restricted in their range of authority. By looking at a series of case studies guided by a solid theoretical framework, Professor Schneider fills a major void in public administration and public management. Her insights, both empirical and normative, could . . .

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