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Collaboration and communication: Building a research agenda and way of working towards community disaster resilience

Peter Rogers (Department of Sociology, Macquarie University, Sydney, New south Wales, Australia)
Judy Burnside-Lawry (Department of Communication, RMIT University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia)
Jelenko Dragisic (Global Resilience Collaborative, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia)
Colleen Mills (Department of Marketing, Management and Entrepreneurship, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand)

Disaster Prevention and Management

ISSN: 0965-3562

Article publication date: 1 February 2016




The purpose of this paper is to provide a case study of Participatory Action Research (PAR), reporting on a collaboration, communication and disaster resilience workshop in Sydney, Australia. The goal of the workshop was to explore the challenges that organisations perceive as blockages to building community disaster resilience; and, through collaborative practitioner-led activities, identify which of those challenges could be best addressed through a deeper engagement with communication research.


The authors link communication, collaboration and disaster resilience through the lens of PAR, detailing how communication and resilience experts can collaborate to improve disaster prevention, management and mitigation practice.


The authors identify a number of theoretical considerations in understanding horizontal and vertical interfaces for improved communication. The authors also highlight how practical collaborative workshops can draw on communication researchers to facilitate collaborative resilience activities. PAR is shown to help move participant focus from resolving inter/intra-organisational tensions to facilitating public good, offering evidence-based recommendations which will foster a more reflexive and communicative approach to building disaster resilient communities.

Research limitations/implications

This paper does not seek to apply community resilience to the general public, no community representatives were present at the workshop. This does not mean that the focus is on organisational resilience. Rather the authors apply PAR as a way to help organisations become more engaged with PAR, communication research and collaborative practice. PAR is a tool for organisations to use in building community resilience, but also a means to reflect on their practice. Whilst this should help organisations in building more resilient communities the take up of practice by participants outside of the workshop is a matter for future research.

Practical implications

This method of collaborative resilience building could significantly improve the shared responsibility amongst key organisations, mobilising skills and building awareness of integrated resilience thinking in practice for stakeholders in disaster management activities.


This paper provides original evidence-based research, showing the linkages between communication theory, collaboration practice and the tools used by organisations tasked with building community resilience. This innovative synthesis of skills can aid in building PAR led disaster resilience across prevention, preparation and mitigation activities for all potential hazards, threats and/or risks, however, it will be particularly of interest to organisations engaged in community resilience building activities.



Rogers, P., Burnside-Lawry, J., Dragisic, J. and Mills, C. (2016), "Collaboration and communication: Building a research agenda and way of working towards community disaster resilience", Disaster Prevention and Management, Vol. 25 No. 1, pp. 75-90.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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