Author Q&A Session with George Carayannopoulos

Routledge is pleased to share with you our author Author Q&A Session with George Carayannopoulos, his new title Disaster Management in Australia!

In recent times the frequency and severity of natural disasters has placed a clear emphasis on the ability of governments to plan, prepare and respond in an effective way. 

Read our interview with George or hear the exclusive podcast of his interview and discover what sparked his interest in the subject and what his title covers. 

About the book and the subject area:

Congratulations on the publication of your title, what inspired you to write this book?

Over the past decade there has been an exponential growth in the number of crises and disasters occurring in Australia and around the world. We only need to think about the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster, Hurricane Katrina and the Black Saturday Bushfires in Australia to see how hard it is to manage these events and the consequences when things go wrong. Disaster events are also increasingly becoming more complex and difficult to manage given that they don’t respect borders or administrative boundaries and require quick action in the face of limited information from the response agencies.

Changes in the disaster management panorama are happening against a backdrop where in many countries there has been a decline of the trust that the public has in government. When it comes to disasters and crises, the public hold higher expectations than ever that government will be able to effectively coordinate preparation, response and recovery to these events. I was inspired to look at this topic to see whether moves towards whole of government or joined-up approaches which seek to coordinate responses across a wide range of actors can be seen to be rhetoric or whether they represent a reality in the modern public service. Getting to the heart of how governments respond to crisis events is critical to determining whether the outcome will be considered a success or failure in the eyes of the public.

What do you think are the main challenges faced by those wishing to mitigate the effects of disasters around the world?

The nature of crisis management arrangements vary profoundly across countries, states and even cities. One of the difficulties involves unravelling these different characteristics to see whether there is an underlying crisis culture that emerges in the face of a major event. For example an event such as the Indian Ocean Tsunami represents a completely different scale and challenge to a more localised event such a volcano eruption. Despite differences however, there are a common set of themes which appear to pervade across events; the role of leadership, coordination mechanisms, social capital between key individuals and organisations and the role that institutions have in impacting on disaster response. As a result unravelling the web of local individual disaster characteristics against a broader unifying set of traits provides an opportunity to build better understanding on how mitigation and response work in the face of adversity.

The other major challenge is to look at and define what success and failure looks like in terms of crisis and disaster management. In many ways, it is not just the event itself but the aftermath of the event and the perception of this which shapes the narratives around success or failure. At times whilst the human and economic impact of an event may be high it may be that the work undertaken has mitigated even worse outcomes from occurring. Finally, it is also important to recognise that in the wake of major events, there is often a critical window which may provide a catalyst for improvements to disaster mitigation and response. This involves understanding lessons which have arisen and cataloguing how these can be used in future mitigation, response and recovery.

About you:

What advice would you give to an aspiring researcher in your field?

I’ve started out as a researcher in public policy looking at how governments develop, implement and evaluate policy. Through the research I’ve undertaken, I’ve moved firmly into an inter-disciplinary space into crisis management. Crisis management draws together a wide range of disciplines and approaches and is firmly based on working with emergency management agencies, governments and other key stakeholders to help assess how they can better approach their management of disasters.

Learning to speak a language which has resonance within the academy and has direct relevance to practitioner groups is one of the key challenges. For me I’ve had the invaluable opportunity of spending time on the ground with emergency agencies which has really helped shape my thinking and given me direct access to think about how my research can be used for both academic and applied purposes, something which I look forward to being able to continue in my future projects.

More About George Carayannopoulos

George Carayannopoulos is Head of the Higher Degree Research Centre at the University of Sydney, Australia, member of Australasian Research Management Society and an Associate Member of the Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre. George has held a number of senior positions in management and research development. He has a background in policy development, analysis and evaluation and his research areas include public policy collaboration, interagency coordination and crisis management.

This title is part of the Routledge Humanitarian Studies series

Click the image below for an exclusive sneak peek of Chapter 1!

Disaster Management in Australia

Click the image and hear George Carayannopoulos podcast of his Q&A!

Author Q&A Session with George Carayannopoulos

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