Multilevel Network Governance in Emergency Management
Qian Hu and Naim Kapucu
Recent large-scale disasters such as Hurricane Irma, Hurricane Maria, and California Wildfires are a constant reminder that it is crucial for public administrators to understand interorganizational coordination, and to govern complex relations among government agencies at all levels and among organizations from all sectors. In this chapter, we discuss multilevel network governance in the context of emergency management. We first introduce what networks and multilevel networks mean in public policy and administration, and then address why we need to study multilevel networks, and what network governance is. We further discuss the unique governance issues in multilevel networks. Using the multi-mode, multi-link emergency management networks as an example, we identify different types of network nodes within the emergency management context and discuss multiple types ot relations among these nodes. We further present new perspectives and approaches to address governance issues in multilevel emergency networks. We conclude with broad implications for network research in other contexts and raise questions for future research.
Multilevel Network Governance
Before we dive into multilevel network governance, it is necessary to introduce a few critical concepts, including interorganizational networks, multilevel governance, and multilevel networks. Over the past tew decades, governments’ role has gradually shifted from direct service provision to governance, which involves cross-sector collaboration with non-state stakeholders in service provision and delivery (Kettl, 2006; O’Leary & Vij, 2012). Government agencies work with nonprofit organizations, and businesses to address a wide range of “wicked” policy problems and management issues such as human and social service delivery (Milward, Provan, Fish, Isett, & Huang, 2010), regional economic development (Lee, Feiock, & Lee, 2012), natural resource management (Robins, Bates, & Pattison, 2011), and emergency management (Hu, Knox, & Kapucu, 2014). Therefore, interorganizational networks emerge and grow to meet the practical need to address public problems in an effective manner.
In a broad sense, interorganizational networks consist of organizations as actors (nodes) and the relations that connect the actors (Borgatti et ah, 2013). In the field of public administration, interorganizational networks often refer to “multiorganizational arrangements for solving problems
Figure 8.1 A depiction of an interorganizational network
that cannot be achieved, or achieved easily, by single organizations” (Agranoff & McGuire, 2001, p. 296). In other words, interorganizational networks contain organizations and their relations, and these organizations build relations to address some common problems. Figure 8.1 depicts an interorganizational network. Circles represent organizations and lines denote relations among organizations, such as information exchange, flow of financial or other resources, client referrals, and resource competition (Provan, Fish, & Sydow, 2007). The relations can be directional or unidirectional; and the relations can be strong or weak based on the frequency of interactions or the quality of the interactions (Borgatti et ah, 2013). The relational patterns can dramatically differ from a traditional hierarchical structure, thereby calling for more research on how to manage or govern networks.
Although network governance and governance share some commonalities, there are some subtle differences. The concept of governance has broader connotations and may embrace network governance. The phrase of multilevel governance originated from the context of the European Union (EU) to describe its decision-making process and political system with the backdrop of the European integration (Bache & Flinders, 2004). According to Hooghe and Marks (2003, 2009), there are type I multilevel governance and type 11 multilevel governance. Type I multilevel governance refers to the dispersion of power across government jurisdictions at local, regional, national, and international/EU levels tor general purpose; and type II multilevel governance focuses on power dispersion across multiple jurisdictions and sectors tor specific tasks or functions (Flooghe & Marks, 2003). Type I multilevel governance has its foundation in research on federalism and intergovernmental relations, whereas type II multilevel governance is closely linked with cross-sectional networks that engage organizations from all sectors to serve the public (Marks & Hooghe, 2004). It is type II multilevel governance that shares more similarities with the concept of multilevel network governance discussed in this chapter.
Network governance can be conceptualized as the use of formal and informal institutions, authority, and collaboration to allocate resources and coordinate joint action of diverse stakeholders in an interorganizational network (Bryson, Crosby, & Stone, 2006; Isett & Miranda, 2015; Provan & Kenis, 2008). Network governance focuses on how to manage complex network relations, facilitate joint decision-making, and coordinate action in a network setting. In this chapter, we focus on the key elements ot governance in multilevel networks, including governance structure, leadership, and management of relationships (Kenis, 2016).
Network analysis is multilevel in nature, given its focus on relations that involves both the actor level and the dyadic level (Snijders, 2016). Yet, research has been more focused on the single-level network. An example ot a single-level network is an interorganizational network that delivers mental illness services to people ot need (Milward et al., 2009). Multilevel networks are specifically defined as “distinct types of nodes defined at different multiple levels with ties possible between all nodes, both within and across levels” (Lomi, Robins, & Tranmer, 2016, p. 266). The levels can be at individual level, group level, organizational level, community level, and so on. For instance, Figure 8.2 provides an illustrative example ot a multilevel network. The network is composed of both individuals and organizations, and the ties exist among individuals and organizations, and between individuals and organizations.
Multilevel networks are more complex compared with single-level networks. Higher number of organizations in a network and their linkages increase complexity. Multilevel networks contain nodes at different levels such as individual nodes and subunit nodes, organizational nodes and sectoral nodes; and the relations exist within and across different levels of nodes. The relations are intertwined and the structure of relations at one level influences the network structure at the other levels (Lomi et al., 2016; Wang, Robins, Pattison, & Lazega, 2013). As Figure 8.2 suggests, there are different types of nodes: employees and organizations. Employees (represented by circles) have informal friendship ties with one another; organizations (represented by squares) have communication ties trough representing employees; and employees have affiliation ties with organizations. Furthermore, the communication ties among organizations, informal friendship ties among employees, and affiliation ties are related.
Despite the ubiquity of multilevel networks, organizational network research has been quite focused on network analysis ot single-level networks (Contractor, Wasserman, & Faust, 2006;
Figure 8.2 A depiction of a multilevel networks
Note: Squares denote organizations. Circles denote employees working in organizations. The dashed lines represent the communication ties among the organizations. The solid lines represent the informal friendship (social capital) ties among individual employees in an organization and across organizations. The grey solid lines denote the affiliation relations between employees and organizations.
Zappa & Lomi, 2015), especially in the field of public administration (Kapucu, Hu, & Khosa, 2014). Part ot this can be attributed to analytical challenges and methodological limitations (Zappa & Lomi, 2015). Conventional statistical tools are constrained when analyzing how the network structure at one level ot organizational networks relates to the network structure at higher or lower levels of organizational network system (Zappa & Lomi, 2015). Recent methodological advances, such as the development of multilevel exponential random graph models (MERGMs), can address the interdependence issues of variables posed by the analysis of multilevel organizational networks (Zappa & Lomi, 2015); yet, the field of public administration still has not seen much research on multilevel networks with advanced methodologies.
Multilevel Network Governance
Existing literature has suggested that public administrators in a networked environment need to work with and interact with a large number of outside stakeholders (Agranoft, 2007). Furthermore, the decision-making process involves multiple organizations and differs from a traditional top-down management approach (Agranotf, 2007; Meier & O’Toole, 2001). Although managerial tasks such as “Planning, Organizing, Staffing, Directing, Coordinating, Reporting and Budgeting” (“POSDCORB”) (Gulick, 1936) remain important, public managers need to engage in four types ot activities in a networked environment: “activation,” “framing,” “mobilizing,” and “synthesizing” as suggested by Agranoft and McGuire (2001, pp. 298—300). Managers need to identify network participants and activate resources from the participants (Acting); establish network rules, collaborative goals, or vision (framing); mobilize resources and gain support (mobilizing); build and strengthen strong relationships; and address conflicts (synthesizing) (Agranotf & McGuire, 2001). All these managerial activities will still apply to a multilevel network setting.
Network leadership has received much attention in recent years (Balkundi & Kildutf, 2006; Carter, DeChurch, Braun, & Contractor, 2015). The focus on relations and networks allows researchers to study the emergence of both formal and informal leadership, the impact of network position, connections, and network structure on leadership outcomes at individual, organizational, and network levels (Balkundi & Kilduft, 2006). Yet most existing studies ot network leadership have focused on individual or teams as levels of analysis, a network approach to leadership at the organizational level, network level, and especially at multilevels is in need (Yammarino & Mumford., 2012).
Governance structure/form is another important topic when examining networks. Provan and Kenis (2008) proposed three forms of governance structures: “shared governance” (members of the network collectively govern the networks); “lead organization-governed network” (a lead organization in the network coordinate network-level decision-making and major activities), and “network administrative organization (NAO) model” (an external actor coordinates the network-level decision-making) (Provan & Kenis, 2008). The adoption of one form ot network governance over others is dependent upon multiple contingency factors, including the level of trust between participants of a network, size of a network, level of goal consensus, and “need for network-level competencies” (Provan & Kenis, 2008, p. 240). For instance, when the goal consensus is low, shared governance is less likely to produce desired collaboration outcomes. In short, the functioning of networks depends on the alignment of governance structure with the attributes and context of multi-level emergency management networks. All are important as emergency management operates in a unique environment, full of uncertainty, changes, and dynamics (Kapucu, 2012). In practice, network governance can have a hybrid form (Popp, MacKean, Casebeer, Milward, & Lindstrom, 2013) and evolve over time (Ansell & Gash, 2008; Provan & Kenis, 2008).
Existing research on network governance, network management and leadership can still be applied to multilevel networks; yet, some additional discussion and analysis is needed to further understand whether there are unique governance issues in multilevel networks. For instance, in a multilevel network that include multiple lead organizations at different levels, emergency managers may need to dedicate more time and resources as boundary spanners among organizations, establish the common goals, and address potential conflicts for better communication and coordination (Kapucu, 2006). Furthermore, context specific forms of governance structure are in need, as the three forms of governance structures may need to be adapted to work in the multilevel network setting. In the ensuing section, we discuss multilevel networks in the context of emergency management and elaborate on the key elements of multilevel networks, and what the multilevel network means for network management and governance.
Governance Issues in Multilevel Emergency Management Networks
There are several reasons to discuss governance issues in multilevel emergency management networks and further explore its implications for other areas of public administration: First, “emergency management is the quintessential governmental role” (Waugh, 2000, p. 3). As the scope and intensity ot both natural and man-made disasters continue to rise, it is important to understand how to coordinate efforts ot government agencies at different levels and organizations from other sectors. Public administration researchers and practitioners need to understand and manage such a multilevel, cross-sector, multiorganizational network.
Second, the national emergency management system is complex, comprised of public, private, and nonprofit organizations and individuals in the United States (Waugh, 2000). Traditionally nonprofit organizations and other voluntary associations and individual citizens have played an important role in dealing with emergencies and disasters. Critical infrastructure protection became more important after the September 11 terrorist attacks. As the private sector owns approximately 85% of the critical infrastructure, it has become more crucial to involve the private sector in planning and coordination in preparation to disasters. Recently, emergency management became more international as international organizations such as the United Nations, World Health Organization and NATO have engaged more often in dealing with large-scale disasters and crises (Kapucu, 2009; Kapucu, & Ozerdem, 2013). Organizations not only share information and resources, coordinate with one another; and they also compete for resources, visibility, and influence within a network (Kapucu & Van Wart, 2006). The complex network of organizations and individuals provides a good context to understand the wide range of relations and examine governance issues in emergency management.
Lastly, existing emergency management network literature has focused on single-level networks, primarily interorganizational networks (e.g., Kapucu, 2006; Hu et al., 2014). Most of previous research has either focused on identifying the key actors in an emergency response network, describing the structural characteristics of the network, and evaluated the performance of a coordination network (Hu et al., 2014; Kapucu, 2006; Kapucu and Demiroz 2011; Nowell & Steelman, 2015; Nowell, Steelman, Velez, & Yang, 2018; Robinson, Eller, Gall, & Gerber 2013). Among the diverse types of ties organizations can have, communication and coordination activities have received most attention (Kapucu & Hu, 2016). The left figure in Figure 8.3 denotes a single-level emergency management network. Nodes include emergency support functions (represented by parallelograms) and organizations from different sectors (squares, diamonds, triangles); however, the relations have been primarily studied at the interorganizational level through focusing on the communication, or coordination among organizations, or the affiliation relations between organizations and emergency support functions (ESF) or disaster recovery functions (DRF).
Multilevel Network Governance
Figure 8.3 A depiction of a single-level emergency management vs. a multilevel emergency management network
Note: The different shapes, circles, squares, diamonds, triangles, and parallelograms represent different types of nodes: employees, public emergency management organizations, nonprofit organizations, businesses, and emergency support functions, respectively. The lines represent different types of interactions among these nodes.
The Multilevel Nature of Emergency Management Systems
The U.S. emergency management system is multilevel, involving vertical relations among government organizations across local, state, and federal levels as well as horizontal relations among organizations across sectors and jurisdictions (Kapucu & Hu, 2016). Managing emergencies and crises involve governments across all levels. At the federal level, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) coordinates efforts with other federal agencies and it established 10 regional offices to coordinate efforts and allocate resources to work with state and local governments (FEMA, 2019). State-level emergency management agencies coordinate resources at the state level and decide whether to request federal assistance to support local communities. Local governments, especially county governments often work closely with other local government agencies, nonprofits, faith-based and for-profit organizations in the context ot disaster management (Waugh, 2000).
As shown in Figure 8.3, the inherently interdependent and embedded relationships ot organizations within multilevel emergency management systems provide a great context to understand the multiplex relations among different types ot nodes in the multilevel emergency network. Emergency management networks consist of a wide range of organizations that work together to prevent, protect, mitigate, respond to, and recover from emergencies and crises. Nodes can be organizations, such as emergency management organizations, other public agencies at different levels and across jurisdictions, nonprofit and private organizations (Comfort & Kapucu, 2006). At the local, state, and federal levels, emergency management organizations not only work with
Qian Hu and Naim Kapucu
nonprofit organizations (represented by diamonds), and private organizations (represented by triangles), but also work closely with other emergency management organizations at other levels of government (such as FEMA and its regional offices. For instance, in response to Hurricane Katrina, among the 535 organizations, 305 are public organizations, 84 are nonprofit organizations, and 143 are businesses (Comfort & Hasse, 2006). Coordination activities occurred among 318 organizations to search tor victims, and provide health care, and sheltering services (Comfort & Hasse, 2006).
Within a multilevel emergency network, nodes can also be people or individuals working in these organizations or emergency support functions. As shown in the bottom layer of Figure 8.3, at the interpersonal level, network ties exist among employees (represented by circles) working in emergency management organizations. For instance, employees may seek advice from others in fulfilling job-related responsibilities or develop friendship ties tor some common interests.
Multi-Mode, Multi-Link Emergency Management Network
The multilevel perspective allows researchers to address big questions in public administration such as coordination and performance from a new angle and explore new questions on network governance. Multilevel emergency management networks are broader than communication and coordination networks; therefore, we define and propose a multi-mode, multi-link emergency management network framework and use this framework to discuss new perspectives and approaches to address governance issues in multilevel emergency networks.
Multilevel emergency management networks include a more diverse range of nodes and different types of relations of nodes at different levels. Table 8.1 is developed upon Carley’s (1999) categorizing of intra-organizational networks and Kapucu’s (2005) adaption to interorganizational networks in the emergency management context. This framework is further refined and adapted to focus on agents or individuals, organizations, and emergency support functions. Multilevel emergency management networks include different types of nodes, such as individual employees, organizations, and emergency support functions (ESFs). Relations exist at and across interpersonal, functional, and organizational levels.
Table 8.1 Multi-mode, Multi-link Emergency Management Network Framework
Interpersonal Network Interactions among people
The organizational representatives
responsible for what function
Membership Network What organization people belong to
Coordination of functions
What organization is responsible for what function
Interorganizational Network Interactions among organizations
Source: Adapted from Carley (1999) and Kapucu (2005).
As Table 8.1 shows, in the context of emergency management, interpersonal networks can be formed among individual employees to build friendship or seek advice in order to prepare for emergencies; assignment networks can be formed between individuals and emergency support functions, linking the organizational representatives responsible for the emergency support functions; membership networks include individuals’ affiliation with organizations; function coordination networks specifies the coordination of functions; affiliation networks link organizations with ESFs; interorganizational networks include a diverse range of interactions among organizations. Existing literature has focused on the affiliation networks and interorganizational networks (e.g., Hu et ah, 2014); yet, more questions can be addressed at the interpersonal level, and functional level, and across interpersonal level, functional level, and organizational levels. Furthermore, questions need to be answered to address the influence of networks at one level on networks at another level. In other words, research attention is needed not only for studying different types of networks, but also tor addressing relationships across the networks at different levels.
For instance, more research is needed to examine how interpersonal networks (one level) can influence the formation and structure of interorganizational networks (yet another level). Both the interorganizational ties and the interpersonal ties are important to the success of multilevel emergency management networks. On the one hand, organizations build formal ties that are defined through hierarchical positions and structures, contracts, agreements, or policies with established goals and expectations (Isett, Mergel., LeRoux, Mischen, & Rethemeyer, 2011). For instance, National Response Frameworks (NRF), along with state and local comprehensive emergency management plans (CEMPs), define the roles and responsibilities of government agencies at all levels and organizations across the sectors. These policy and planning documents also describe coordinating structures in different phases of emergency management. The interactions among these organizations form multilevel emergency management networks. It is within and across the various levels of these networks that the synergistic processes occur.
On the other hand, formal interorganizational connections may originate from interpersonal connections that cross organizational boundaries (Binz-Schart, Lazer, & Mergel, 2012). Interpersonal connections can play crucial roles in fostering the development of long-term formal emergency management networks. Yet, limited attention has been paid to interpersonal networks and relationships between these networks (Isett et al., 2011; Provan & Lemaire, 2012). Creating and fostering relationships amongst stakeholders is essential during all mission areas of emergency management.
Governing Multilevel Emergency Management Networks
The nature of emergency situations demands participating organizations to work interdependent^ with other organizations, which necessitates high-level coordination skills at the network level (Kapucu, 2009). Network governance, in the context of emergency management, can be defined as coordinating processes, mechanisms, and structures that guide the collective effort of stakeholders in preparedness, response to, and recovery from disasters (Drabek & McEntire, 2002; Kapucu, 2006, 2012; Kapucu & Garayev, 2012; Koliba, Meek, & Zia, 2010; Waugh & Streib, 2006). Network governance presents the foundational processes and mechanisms through which emergency management networks collectively govern their activities and share resources to cope with emergencies and crises in an effective manner. The functioning of multilevel emergency management networks depends on the alignment of governance structure with organizational attributes and the disaster context.
The U.S. emergency management utilizes the Emergency Support Function (ESF)-based system and the Incident Command System (ICS) to coordinate core emergency management functions. These documents also provide guidance to state and local governments to structure and plan their emergency management operations. To enhance cross-sector coordination and intergovernmental coordination, the National Response Framework (NRF) was established in 2008 to define the role and responsibilities of organizations (primary agencies and support agencies) based on 15 ESFs. This system demands collaboration among organization working in these functional areas (Kapucu & Garayev, 2012; Kapucu & Hu, 2016).
Compared with the horizontal approach of the ESF-based system, the ICS-based approach demonstrates a more hierarchical command-and-control structure. The ICS is organized around five functional areas, including command, operations, planning, logistics, and finance/adminis- tration (Federal Agency of Emergency Management [FEMA], 2008). Facing an incident, a single incident commander is in charge, with the support from the staff, including a public information officer, a safety officer, and a liaison officer. The ICS approach also involves coordination. When coordination is needed, representatives of agencies make joint decisions to create a unified command (FEMA, 2008). A multilevel emergency management network is formed under the influence of both systems. The current U.S. emergency management system, with its focus on coordination at all levels of government and jurisdictions, makes lead-mode, NAO-nrode more appropriate for an effective response and recovery. We also need to emphasize that local-level capacity for timely decentralized decision-making is key for emergency management. The existing forms of governance structures—lead-mode and NAO-mode—need to be adapted in a multilevel emergency management network setting.
Furthermore, the multilevel nature of emergency management may demand a hybrid governance structure. For instance, a lead-mode structure may function well in a single-level emergency management network where the local county emergency management office may serve as the lead agency to coordinate and organize efforts with other government agencies and nonprofit or business. However, as the number and diversity of participating organizations increases when networks at other levels join the network, the original lead mode may not function as expected. A core group of organizations may take the lead. In other words, multiple lead organizations take responsibilities in coordinating resource allocation and decision-making for a multilevel network.
Network Leadership in Multilevel Emergency Management Networks
Through an empirical study of 500 emergency managers, McGuire and Silvia highlighted the importance of “mobilizing” and “synthesizing” behavior tor the effectiveness of emergency networks (2009). In a multilevel emergency management network, it is more important tor managers to build a support network, mobilize network resources, address differences between individual organizational goals and network goals, and manage power imbalances and potential conflicts. Next, we will discuss what the network leadership behaviors—“Activating,” “framing,” “mobilizing,” and “synthesizing” mean in the context of a multilevel emergency management network.
Activating behavior becomes more important, as a multilevel emergency management network involves multiple types of nodes and complex relations among the nodes. Emergency managers need to develop a clear picture of all relevant actors or nodes and understand their relations in the network. Identifying all nodes and activating resources at different levels of networks. The resources not only exist in interorganizational networks, but also exist in other types of networks such as interpersonal networks or assignment networks, which have been largely neglected in existing research (Kapucu & Hu, 2016). For instance, understanding the assignment network (the organizational representatives responsible for emergency support function) is important for emergency managers to call tor needed resources and joint action when needed in an efficient manner. Building interpersonal relations among emergency managers can also help better link or strengthen relations among organizations.
Emergency managers need to “frame” the issue in a way to be effectively communicated to the network at all levels. The multilevel emergency system involves various levels of government and organizations from different sectors (public, nonprofit, and private). Furthermore, due to the uncertain and urgent nature of most emergencies, emergency managers need to communicate in a timely manner. Hence, emergency managers need to be able to understand the organizational differences and seek common ground for defining roles and responsibilities, establishing rules, and creating collaboration goals. “Mobilizing” resources in a multilevel emergency management network requires managers to serve as boundary spanners who not only mobilize resources at government agencies at all levels, but also tap into resources in the community, businesses, and nonprofit organizations. It is important to mobilize network resources at the interpersonal level, at the organizational level, at the functional unit level, and interorganizational level, and across these levels. It is challenging yet crucial to “synthesizing” different perspectives and priorities in a multilevel network setting. Public, nonprofit, and private organizations may have different operational processes and procedures. When these organizations come together to prepare for or respond to an emergency, leaders need to work on differences, address power imbalances, and coordinate joint actions.
In this chapter, we called for attention to the governance of multilevel networks. Although most of existing network governance research in public administration has focused on the single-level networks due to methodological constraints (Kapucu et al., 2014), networks are multilevel in nature. Multilevel networks include nodes of diverse types and at different levels, and ties that connect nodes within and across levels (Lomi et al., 2016). The complexity of network nodes and relations demands new research on governance structure, network management and leadership.
We used the emergency management as a context to further discuss governance issues in a multilevel emergency management network. Due to the existence of multiple lead organizations in a multilevel network, multiple organizations may take the lead role in coordinating activities and facilitating decision-making. Furthermore, the “acting,” “framing,” “mobilizing,” and “synthesizing” behaviors of network leaders embraces new elements in a multilevel setting.
As multilevel network governance research remains at its emergence stage, this chapter may raise more questions than it has addressed. Moving forward, a wide range of old and new questions need to be addressed through a multilevel network lens. We list a few questions here to invite public administration scholars to join the conversation on governing multilevel networks.
• What nodes are included in a multilevel network? What types of relations are included?
Our disciplinary focus on interorganizational networks does not and should not exclude research attention to other types of nodes and relations, and interpersonal networks and inter-unit networks. In fact, studying other types of networks help further understand the dynamics of interorganizational networks.
• How does a network at one level influence the formation of ties and the structure of relations at another level?
While it is important to examine how organizational attributes and prior interactions influence their tie formation, it might be interesting to study the influence of interpersonal networks on the formation of formal relations at the organizational level or vice versa.
• What leadership behaviors are needed most in a multilevel network setting?
Does the “acting,” “framing,” “mobilizing,” and “synthesizing” behaviors capture all the key activities that a network leader need to do to ensure the functioning ot multilevel networks? Does each of the key activity involve new content or element to be effective?
• What type of governance structure is effective in a multilevel network setting?
As the complexity of network increases, is a formal governance structure a must? Will shared governance, lead organization governance, or NAO governance continue to apply in a multilevel network? If not, what new network structure(s) will work?
• How does context influence the formation, development, function, and structure of multilevel networks?
Many of existing network studies focus on specific domains. It is worthwhile to explore whether there are common principles that guide the formation and development of multilevel networks across different policy and management contexts. Furthermore, to achieve network effectiveness, it is important to identify how unique contextual factors influence the function and governance modes of multilevel networks.
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