Extending coordination theory for multi-organisational disaster coordination


Despite technological and theoretical advances in disaster management, Australian government organisations still find inter-service coordination of resources, information and knowledge extremely challenging, with considerable implications for economic and social costs. However, there is the clear lack of measurement scales for use that are grounded in theory and empirically validated in field studies. In this research, coordination theory is applied and extended to better understand how inter-service disaster management agencies actually coordinate (or manage disaster-related dependencies) task, resource, knowledge and expertise. More specifically, the project has two objectives: (1) to understand the problem of multi-organizational disaster “coordination gaps” (mismatches between required and actual coordination) in disaster management contexts; and (2) to develop and validate a reliable measure of “coordination gaps”, using a multi-method approach: a review of multi-disciplinary literatures of coordination studies, focus groups of disaster management experts, and a confirmatory factor analysis of survey data from frontline disaster coordinators in NSW. The expected outcomes of this research are: (i) better understanding of the inter-service coordination gaps in practice (ii) empirically validated measurement scales of coordination gaps for use in disaster management for improved inter-service disaster coordination, and (iii) the application of extended coordination theory in the context of disaster management.


Dr Kenneth Chung

Research Location

Civil Engineering

Program Type



This project provides the empirically validated measurement scales for identifying actual coordination gaps in practice and help emergency services better understand evidence-based improvements for inter-service and inter-agency disaster coordination in Australia, with significant economic and social benefits to these organizations, communities, and people.  Furthermore, the project objectives reduce the knowledge gap identified by leading researchers in coordination. Finally, these objectives also align directly with three of the four national research priorities (NRPs) according to the Australian Research Council (ARC): “an environmentally sustainable Australia; frontier technologies for building and transforming Australian industries; and safeguarding Australia”.

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Coordination theory, disaster management, coordination, coordination gap, social network, knowledge, expertise

Opportunity ID

The opportunity ID for this research opportunity is: 1380

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