A study of emergent organizing and technological affordances after a natural disaster

Chih-Hui Lai*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations

Abstract

Purpose: Drawing on the model of technology-in-practice and the literature on bona fide approaches and technological affordances, the purpose of this paper is to argue that collectives involved in emergency response may exhibit similar and different usage patterns for technology due to the combined influence of the temporal development of the response actions and the existing and newly enacted organizational, social, and technological structures. Design/methodology/approach: To enrich the argument about the inter-related influence on response organizations' use of technology across phases of the disaster response, this research uses a multi-method and longitudinal case study of citizen-based response organizations after Hurricane Sandy. Findings: Findings show that technologies were used similarly by response organizations immediately after the hurricane, whereas the later use of technologies exhibited variations. Moreover, Twitter was used consistently for diverse purposes across the phases of the disaster response, whereas Facebook usage among organizations first diverged and then converged two months after the hurricane. The organizations' different patterns of social media use also reflected the construction and reconstruction of resource networks for relief operations over time. Research limitations/implications: This study integrates multiple theoretical frameworks in explaining the processes and outcomes of technology use for collectives in emergency response, which presents an example of bridging and enriching the theoretical constructs from the areas of technology adaptation and emergency management. Practical implications: Findings of this study provide practical knowledge about the mechanisms of integrating multiple information systems into the building of resilient social systems for emergency response. Social implications: Findings of this study enrich social understanding about how the use of technologies for collective activity in emergency situations can go beyond one-time events and lay the foundation for long-term resilient emergency management. Originality/value: The originality of this study lies in its mixed-method and longitudinal design, which allows for the examination of the timing, circumstances, and outcomes of citizen-based response organizations' technology use.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)507-523
Number of pages17
JournalOnline Information Review
Volume41
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2017

Keywords

  • Affordances
  • Disaster response
  • Self-organizing
  • Social media

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