Responses to Large-Scale Emergencies
- Arnold M. Howitt - Harvard Kennedy School, USA
- Herman B. Leonard - Harvard Kennedy School and Harvard Business School
From floods to fires, tornadoes to terrorist attacks, governments must respond to a variety of crises and meet reasonable standards of performance. What accounts for governments’ effective responses to unfolding disasters? How should they organize and plan for significant emergencies? With fifteen adapted Kennedy School cases, students experience first-hand a series of large-scale emergencies and come away with a clear sense of the different types of disaster situations governments confront, with each type requiring different planning, resourcing, skill-building, leadership, and execution.
Grappling with the details of flawed responses to the LA Riots or Hurricane Katrina, or with the success of the Incident Management System during the Pentagon fire on 9/11, students start to see the ways in which responders can improve capabilities and more adeptly navigate between technical or operational needs and political considerations.
As a tool for learning from real life events the book serves a good purpose including several interesting case studies. Also the vignettes in each part are effective and useful. On the negative side I miss discussions and reflections of the cases as well as theoretical conclusions. Although it is a case book some deeper reflections would be interesting. A second negative critique is the one-sided use of US cases. The variation of societal and organizational contexts between nations makes the cases difficult to apply.
This is a key text for students studying disaster management and large scale catastrophes. Despite its North American focus, the high profile and varied case studies are accessible and interesting to a UK audience. There are a number of key features that support learning including clear chronologies of events, key figures and points for discussion.
Subsequent editions could consider providing an all important global perspective through the consideration of case studies from around the world.
I will recommend this text to my students who will be studying a third year module in mass disasters as part of thier forensic science undergraduate degree.