Indexed on: 09 Nov '16Published on: 07 Nov '16Published in: Global Environmental Change
Publication date: November 2016 Source:Global Environmental Change, Volume 41 Author(s): Ö. Bodin, D. Nohrstedt Natural disasters present a multitude of entangled societal challenges beyond the realms and capacities of single actors. Prior research confirms that effective collaboration is of critical significance to address such complex collective action problems. Yet, studies rarely investigate if patterns of collaboration are appropriately aligned (‘fit’) with how different challenges (tasks) are interdependent, or how levels of fit influence collective action performance. We develop a set of hypotheses specifying what constitutes a good fit between collaborative networks and task interdependency. Using unique empirical data from the response to a major wildfire in Sweden, we examine how individual actors select collaboration partners and tasks during the formation the collaborative crisis response network. Then we test if levels of fit in the established network influence performance. We show that patterns of actor and task interdependency influence the formation of collaborative networks and that a good fit seems to be associated with more effective collaboration. Our data even suggest that a good fit is more important for performance than actors’ prior crisis management experience and level of professionalization. Further, we show that actors only partially engage in actor-task configurations conducive to high performance. Our study probes the limitations of simplified accounts of collaborative disaster management by enabling more precise and theoretically informed empirical inquiries regarding the mechanisms that shape the structure and performance of collaborative networks.