The purpose of this paper is to describe leadership, decision making and other community characteristics that support community resiliency following disasters.
Literature review and case study based on participant observation in nine years post-Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.
Effective leaders promote community resiliency using democratic, diffused decision making, stressing intra-dependence and promoting individual agency and locally-informed decisions. They build upon local networks and cultural bonds – not waiting for disaster but continuously, with flexible readiness framework infused in all efforts.
The paper uses New Orleans’ experiences following Hurricane Katrina to explore how leadership, decision making and other community characteristics can promote resiliency post-disaster – case study extrapolating from one disaster and relevant literature to understand role of leaders in community recovery/re-design.
Changes in global economic and environmental conditions, population growth and urban migration challenge capacity of communities to thrive. Leadership and decision making are hub of wheel in crises, so understanding how leaders promote community resiliency is essential.
Disasters create breakdowns as functioning of all systems that maintain community are overwhelmed and increased demands exceed wounded capacity. Eventually, immediate struggle to limit impact gives way to longer process of re-designing key systems for improved functionality. What contributes to differing abilities of communities to reboot? How can we use understanding of what contributes to that differential ability to prepare and respond more effectively to disasters?
Hurricane Katrina was a uniquely devastating urban event – causing re-design and re-building of every major system. Almost ten years post-hurricane, rebuilding process has provided key lessons about effective leadership and community resiliency post-disaster.
Grateful appreciation to the Rockefeller Foundation's Bellagio residency for providing the opportunity to develop these ideas.
Usdin, L. (2014), "Building resiliency and supporting distributive leadership post-disaster: Lessons from New Orleans a decade (almost) after Hurricane Katrina", International Journal of Leadership in Public Services, Vol. 10 No. 3, pp. 157-171. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJLPS-07-2014-0010Download as .RIS
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