A research agenda to explore the emergency operations center


  • Paolo Cavaliere, PhD
  • Zachary Cox, MA
  • James Kendra, PhD
  • Aimee Mankins, BA
  • Michael Michaud, MEd
  • Farah Nibbs, MA, MPS
  • Vasko Popovski, MA
  • Michelle Woody, BA




emergency operations center, research agenda, fragmentation, sensemaking, meaning making, decision making, space making, placemaking


Objective: The emergency operations center (EOC) is an essential component of modern emergency management. Traditionally understood as a place where officials communicate with the public, support coordination, manage operations, craft policy, gather information, and host visitors; there has been little recent research on their structure, operations, or work procedures. EOCs may in fact be, as we argue here, places where emergency managers come to find workarounds, delegate tasks, and find new sources of expertise in order to make sense, make meaning, and make decisions. However, despite their status as a symbol of emergency management and recipients of large amounts of funding, there has been relatively little scientific research into the EOC. With this paper, we synthesize the existing research and propose a variety of research questions to accelerate the process of inquiry into the EOC.

Design: Informed by an extensive literature review, this article presents a comprehensive look at the existing state of knowledge surrounding EOCs.

Interventions: Research questions to support investigation of the EOC are suggested.

Conclusions: The EOC is an underexplored setting ripe for development and discovery by researchers and emergency managers seeking to influence the field of emergency management.

Author Biographies

Paolo Cavaliere, PhD

Disaster Research Center, University of Delaware, Newark, Deleware

Zachary Cox, MA

Disaster Research Center, University of Delaware, Newark, Deleware

James Kendra, PhD

Disaster Research Center, University of Delaware, Newark, Deleware

Aimee Mankins, BA

Disaster Research Center, University of Delaware, Newark, Deleware

Michael Michaud, MEd

Disaster Research Center, University of Delaware, Newark, Deleware

Farah Nibbs, MA, MPS

Disaster Research Center, University of Delaware, Newark, Deleware

Vasko Popovski, MA

Institute of Defence, Security and Peace, St Cyril and Methodius University, Skopje, Macedonia

Michelle Woody, BA

Disaster Research Center, University of Delaware, Newark, Deleware


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How to Cite

Cavaliere, PhD, P., Z. Cox, MA, J. Kendra, PhD, A. Mankins, BA, M. Michaud, MEd, F. Nibbs, MA, MPS, V. Popovski, MA, and M. Woody, BA. “A Research Agenda to Explore the Emergency Operations Center”. Journal of Emergency Management, vol. 18, no. 6, Nov. 2020, pp. 525-34, doi:10.5055/jem.2020.0499.