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Transboundary disasters and network governance

The theme for this year’s Academy of Management (AOM) conference on August 7-11 is “Opening Governance.” Branda Nowell will present on the critical dimensions of this question and how to structurally organize complex networks. Large, transboundary disasters are one problem domain that involve a networked response due to the complex array of participants that must come together to manage interdependently under the dynamic conditions of crisis. Our general theory of network structure for governing incident response to transboundary disasters is shaped by the context and characteristics of these disasters.

Methodologically, we draw from the collective wisdom of 25 of the most elite and experienced incident commanders in the United States. Using a cognitive network approach based on their insights formed over decades of experience seeking to manage complex networks during disasters, we constructed a theoretical social network of an effective incident response network. The observed network conformed to a moderate core-periphery structure in which multiple central actors were linked tightly together and served as brokers, primarily between the core and the periphery.We analyzed this core-periphery structure to identify a set of propositions concerning the network structure and governance of effective incident response.