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Training decision-makers in flood response with system dynamics

Romana Berariu (Institute of Production and Logistics, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna, Austria)
Christian Fikar (Institute of Production and Logistics, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna, Austria)
Manfred Gronalt (Institute of Production and Logistics, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna, Austria)
Patrick Hirsch (Institute of Production and Logistics, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna, Austria)

Disaster Prevention and Management

ISSN: 0965-3562

Article publication date: 4 April 2016

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to present a training model for decision makers that covers the complexity which is inherent in decision-making processes in times of floods.

Design/methodology/approach

Through literature review, case study analysis and iterative interviews with decision-makers, the model was established. It enables one to simulate different scenarios depending on selected influencing factors and was implemented with Stella 9.1.

Findings

Flood events are highly complex and their development process is significantly influenced by various conditions. The findings show that the most important factor is the water level which determines the time available to respond. The presented System Dynamics (SD) model has the capability to capture such complex settings. Through what-if analysis and the comparison of different scenarios, learning effects are achieved by using the model.

Research limitations/implications

The level of abstraction is high. Not all influencing variables can be incorporated due to the variety of flood events. Based on experts’ recommendations, the most relevant factors were included as areas of focus in the model.

Practical implications

The generated model is presented to facilitate holistic comprehension of the modelling process. It offers the possibility to start learning processes through scenario analyses in order to strengthen decision-makers’ understanding of complexity.

Originality/value

To the best of our knowledge, there are no comparable studies that focus on the generation process of building an SD-model for educational purposes in flood response.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

Financial support of the programme KIRAS provided by the Federal Ministry for Transport, Innovation and Technology (Project No. 840 897) is gratefully acknowledged. The authors further would like to thank interviewees for their feedback and expertise. The remarks of the anonymous reviewers are also acknowledged and appreciated.

Citation

Berariu, R., Fikar, C., Gronalt, M. and Hirsch, P. (2016), "Training decision-makers in flood response with system dynamics", Disaster Prevention and Management, Vol. 25 No. 2, pp. 118-136. https://doi.org/10.1108/DPM-06-2015-0140

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited