Journal of Management Studies

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Vol 54 (8 Issues in 2017)
Edited by: Dries Faems, Igor Filatotchev, Don Siegel (General Editors); Penny Dick, Daniel Muzio, Gerardo Patriotta, Corinne Post, Andrea Prencipe, John Prescott, Riikka Sarala, Li-Qun Wei (Associate Editors); Bill Harley, Maddy Janssens (Consulting Editors)
Print ISSN: 0022-2380 Online ISSN: 1467-6486
Impact Factor: 3.962

March 17, 2014

Entrepreneurial Survival: Study Explores How Local Initiatives Emerge During Natural Disasters

During natural disasters state emergency services and NGOs can become swamped, creating the need for local groups, often organized by the impacted community itself. New research in the Journal of Management Studies investigates these under-studied groups, using Australian bushfires to discover the role these local ventures play.

While national and international organizations such as the Red Cross exist to react to disasters, the sheer scale can strain them to breaking point. In 2010 alone 406 natural disasters took the lives of 304 million people and caused $123 billion in damages.

The authors explored the role of local groups in the wake of “Black Saturday”, the worst bushfires in Australian history, which ravaged the state of Victoria in southeastern Australia in 2009. Over 400 fires burned across the state, from which 173 people died and 414 were injured.

Using witness statements from the Royal Commission, interviews with participants and by analyzing the media coverage, the authors identified how local groups emerged to ensure the community’s survival.

The team found that local groups could rely on networks of friends and family members, while even loose connections within the community were strengthened through the adversity of the fire. Most importantly the community groups had local knowledge, such as the presence of milk tankers for carrying water during the bushfires, which external groups lacked.