Filling the gap in homeland security

An article published in the current issue of Public Administration Review reviews the federal response prior to and after Hurricane Katrina and suggests a new organizational climate. Author Charles Wise suggests the adaptive management approach. It calls for the integration of science and management and for managers to change their approach as new information arrives. The framework differs from the more traditional form of organization such as the hierarchical model, where knowledge is treated as a scarce resource and decision-making is concentrated at the top. Instead, the network model is utilized to incorporate the contributions and activities of the multiple homeland security organizations at various levels of government and in the private sector as a basis for organizing the homeland security system. The analysis builds on the network model and offers an adaptive management approach to implement it in a constantly changing homeland security context.

Adaptive management is based on the notion that the knowledge available for a manager is always incomplete, making surprise an inevitable part of any situation. It begins by bringing together stakeholders who discuss the problem and map a plan, including a monitoring system to analyze data and update the manager's understanding of their approach in practice. It also provides managers the ability to ensure that decisions are used as opportunity for organizational learning. "What is required for homeland security is for professionals at various levels to work across boundaries, plan and negotiate future activities, and communicate during operations to resolve unanticipated problems," Wise concludes.


This study appears in the May issue of Public Administration ReviewTM. Media wishing to receive a PDF of this article please contact [email protected]

This essay is the first in Public Administration Review'sTM academic/practitioner exchanges on seminal, current administrative issues. William Jenkins from the GAO, who specializes in Homeland Security Departmental Organization, wrote a response to Wise's essay. His essay "Collaboration over Adaptation: The Case for Interoperable Communications in Homeland Security" is also available to the media.

Public Administration ReviewTM has been the premier journal in the field of public administration research, theory, and practice for more than 60 years. Published for the American Society for Public Administration TM/SM, its articles identify and analyze current trends, provide a factual basis for decision making, stimulate discussion, and make the leading literature in the field available in an easily accessible format.

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Charles R. Wise is a professor of public affairs in the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University. He has been published in numerous books and journals. Dr. Wise is available for media questions and interviews.

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 30 Apr 2016
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