Earth & Environmental Science Journalism:

Science Research Project

Resistance to Suggestions for Mitigation of Disasters.

Voctoria Boyt Kaufman


Anecdotal evidence indicates that suggestions for mitigation against disasters are often rejected. A series of interviews and a survey examined the views of disaster professionals as to why suggestions were rejected by their supervisors and organizations.

The overarching theme that has emerged from the survey is that disaster-related professionals consider their supervisors to be basically conservative in the way in which they handle mitigation suggestions within the organization. These decision-makers are perceived to be conventional, cautious in their responses, rather deliberate in their actions and deficient in background understanding of hazards. The organizations in which the respondents work seem to be restrictive in the implementation of mitigation suggestions. The majority of affirmative responses to multiple choices in this section require further inquiry. Reasons not to mitigate include the role government plays in disaster response, the protection provided by insurance and the decision-maker's own perception of the risk. As with the organizational parameters, different risk perception variables were answered predominantly in the affirmative, indicating that there are multiple problems contributing to the one decision. Further study is suggested here as well.

Respondents indicated that the prospect of a low-probability high-consequence event would not motivate their organizations. The apparent need for a disaster to have occurred in order for an organization to be more receptive to suggestions for mitigation invites future study. In a comparison of male respondents to females there were no significant differences in most areas, nor were differences in responses noted with respect to country of origin, employment, expertise, or size of organization.

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Last updated: 7 May 2001, KAK.