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Bridging cultures: Nonprofit, church, and emergency management agency collaboration after the May 2013 Oklahoma tornado outbreak

Haley Murphy, PhD, Jason Pudlo, PhD Candidate


Community-based organizations, such as nonprofit organizations (NPOs) and churches, play an important role in helping individuals and communities bounce back after a disaster. The nature of disasters requires organizations across sectors to partner together to provide recovery services; however, collaboration is difficult even in times of stability and requires trust and communication to be built through prior collaborative relationships. These prior relationships rarely exist between the majority of the nonprofit sector, churches, and existing emergency management structures. Furthermore, these organizations often have very different cultures, values, and norms that can further hinder successful postdisaster collaboration. The authors use data collected from interviews with nonprofit and church leaders involved in recovery efforts after a series of devastating storms impacted central Oklahoma in 2013 to understand how well nonprofit and church leaders perceive their organizations collaborated with each other and with government and emergency management agencies in response and recovery efforts. Interview data suggest that NPOs and churches without a primary or secondary mission of disaster response and recovery have a difficult time collaborating with organizations involved in existing emergency management structures. The authors suggest that nonprofits with a primary or secondary purpose in disaster response are a potential bridge between other nonprofits and emergency management agencies.


nonprofit, church, disaster response, Collaboration

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