Effective knowledge integration in emergency response organizations

Arvind Gudi, Florida International University


Natural and man-made disasters have gained attention at all levels of policy-making in recent years. Emergency management tasks are inherently complex and unpredictable, and often require coordination among multiple organizations across different levels and locations. Effectively managing various knowledge areas and the organizations involved has become a critical emergency management success factor. However, there is a general lack of understanding about how to describe and assess the complex nature of emergency management tasks and how knowledge integration can help managers improve emergency management task performance. The purpose of this exploratory research was first, to understand how emergency management operations are impacted by tasks that are complex and inter-organizational and second, to investigate how knowledge integration as a particular knowledge management strategy can improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the emergency tasks. Three types of specific knowledge were considered: context-specific, technology-specific, and context-and-technology-specific. The research setting was the Miami-Dade Emergency Operations Center (EOC) and the study was based on the survey responses from the participants in past EOC activations related to their emergency tasks and knowledge areas. The data included task attributes related to complexity, knowledge area, knowledge integration, specificity of knowledge, and task performance. The data was analyzed using multiple linear regressions and path analyses, to (1) examine the relationships between task complexity, knowledge integration, and performance, (2) the moderating effects of each type of specific knowledge on the relationship between task complexity and performance, and (3) the mediating role of knowledge integration. As per theory-based propositions, the results indicated that overall component complexity and interactive complexity tend to have a negative effect on task performance. But surprisingly, procedural rigidity tended to have a positive effect on performance in emergency management tasks. Also as per our expectation, knowledge integration had a positive relationship with task performance. Interestingly, the moderating effects of each type of specific knowledge on the relationship between task complexity and performance were varied and the extent of mediation of knowledge integration depended on the dimension of task complexity.

Subject Area

Management|Information science

Recommended Citation

Gudi, Arvind, "Effective knowledge integration in emergency response organizations" (2009). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI3380832.