You are cordially invited to the public defense ceremony of my PhD dissertation on January 7th 2016, 13:45 in the Aula of the VU Main building.

My dissertation is entitled: ‘Drawing the Line. Cross-boundary Coordination Processes in Emergency Management’.

In this dissertation I have studied how emergency managers practice cross-boundary coordination. Coordination between police, fire department and medical services is a crucial process for effective emergency management. Emergency responders face the challenge of coordinating their mutual interdependencies in chaotic environments with crisis managers from different organizations. They often have different expertise and different professional languages, which inhibits coordination. So, the question is: how do crisis managers coordinate the emergency response operation across the boundaries of their organizations in faced-paced environments?

In my dissertation I analyse how such coordination processes unfold on the disaster scene, based on detailed observations and reconstructions of exercises and real-life operations. The results indicate that incident command is primarily based on integration through plans, protocols, and centralised command structures. However, this research indicates that crisis managers operate differently on the disaster scene itself. Coordination at the disaster scene is based on fragmentation, in which emergent adaptations, reinforcement of (organizational) boundaries, negotiation between experts, and continuous networking are central. Fragmentation often has a negative connotation, but this research indicates that coordination on basis of fragmentation enables crisis managers to keep speed in the operation. Utilising fragmentation supports flexibility and creativity, which are crucial processes for a fast and effective emergency management operation.

My PhD dissertation can be downloaded here.