Filling the Gap in Homeland Security

The federal response after Hurricane Katrina suggests the need for a new organizational climate, according to an article in Public Administration Review. Professor Charles Wise of the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University (IU) believes agencies need to take a more adaptive management approach in emergency situations.

Wise says a new organizational plan should include the integration of science and management and calls for managers to change their approach as new information arrives. The new framework differs from traditional organization such as the hierarchical model, where knowledge is treated as a scarce resource and decision-making is concentrated at the top.

The network model combines the contributions and activities of multiple homeland security organizations at various government levels and the private sector to organize the approach in a constantly changing homeland security context.

The adaptive management approach, says Wise, is based on the notion that the knowledge available for a manager is always incomplete, making surprise an inevitable part of any situation.

The adaptive management approach updates the manager's understanding by bringing together stakeholders who discuss the problem and map a plan including a monitoring system to analyze data and provides managers the ability use decisions as opportunity for organizational learning.

"What is required for homeland security is for professionals at various levels to work across boundaries, plan and negotiate future activities and communicate during operations to resolve unanticipated problems," Wise concludes.

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