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2 months ago
What are some of the reasons behind the inadequate response of U.S. government agencies to the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina?
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Understanding and Managing Organizational Behavior
Edition: 6th
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Gathering accurate and timely information during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina was critical because a rapid response would have required the cooperation of different levels of government. A rapid response could have occurred if officials had been able to arrive at a common definition of the situation, quickly. However, communication failed during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. There are several potential reasons for this failure.

Managers often come into conflict when there are complex task interdependencies or when there are unclear reporting relationships, both of which are likely to emerge in crises. Second, when confronted with the need to make crucial decisions many managers are inclined to "pass the buck" and leave the final decision to someone above them in the hierarchy. In this way, they can avoid blame if something goes awry. Third, collecting good information takes time, and unless there has been effective advance planning (involving dry runs and emergency simulations), it takes much longer for managers to diagnose and respond to the crisis or disaster.

The head of FEMA waited 48 hours to mobilize the huge relief effort, in large part because he wanted the green light from the White House. Both the governor of Louisiana and mayor of New Orleans failed to signal the level of emergency. Later reports suggested that one reason for Governor Kathleen Blanco's slow response was that she was inundated with emails from leaders and others around the world offering help, and from people whose relatives were trapped in New Orleans. Furthermore, she was engaged in political battles with other government agencies.
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