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Managing Risk in Dynamic Conditions: Emerging Crises, Changing Technologies, and the Collective Capacity to Learn

Louise K. Comfort & Wen-Jiun Wang
PAQ, Vol. 46 No. 4, 359-383 (2022)

Governing unexpected, extreme events requires a fundamental change in the design of planning processes and responsibilities to enable communities to manage novel risks in sustainable ways. The challenge is to create continuous learning processes for communities that include participants at diverse levels of knowledge, skill, vulnerability, and commitment to reducing risk not only for themselves, but for the whole community. To investigate the problem of collective learning under stress, we analyzed processes of organizational learning in the operational context of Taiwan over a series of extreme events, 1999-2020. While collective learning did occur in Taiwan, it is not clear that sustainable management of novel risks has been achieved. Finding the balance between social coherence and system control likely needs to be recalibrated for each new event.

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