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The Kobe earthquake: some realities of strategic management of crises and disasters

Robert Heath (Distinguished Visiting Fellow at La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia, and is Management Director at Crisis Corp (UK) Ltd.)

Disaster Prevention and Management

ISSN: 0965-3562

Article publication date: 1 December 1995



The response management of the Kobe earthquake in 1995 provides practitioners and theorists of crisis and disaster management with much to consider. As in other efforts around the world the Kobe response management appeared slow and less than optimal in performance. Focuses on the effects of magnitude of impact and degree of strategic preparedness that may affect response. Magnitude of impact is the degree to which impact damage seems random in occurrence, the size of the impact area, the severity of impact, the ratio of visible to invisible damage, the number of major sub‐event crises triggered by the impact of the event, and the degree of psychological distortion caused by (or accelerated by) the impact of the event. The degree of strategic preparedness depends on the degree to which response managers can successfully translate meta‐strategic missions and objectives into operational strategies that are realistic and achievable in any given crisis or disaster event. Components of strategic preparedness include the provision of escalation triggers, establishing cascaded priorities, and having and maintaining a dynamic reserve. Planning and preparing for crises and disasters needs to include cascade strategic priority profiles for communities, consideration of cultural features of organizations and communities in developing plans and preparedness, establishing quantifiable escalation triggers for response management, and developing and maintaining a working dynamic reserve.



Heath, R. (1995), "The Kobe earthquake: some realities of strategic management of crises and disasters", Disaster Prevention and Management, Vol. 4 No. 5, pp. 11-24.




Copyright © 1995, MCB UP Limited