Disaster resilience as a complex problem: why linearity is not applicable for long-term recovery

D.A. Blackman, H. Nakanishi, Angela Benson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Despite considerable research into developing effective systems for achieving disaster resilience after a major disaster (Blakely, Birch & Anglin, 2011; Vale & Campanella, 2005), there is an ongoing gap between the purpose of long-term disaster recovery and actual implementation. We will suggest that this is because, unusually, the nature of the disaster recovery process changes over time. It develops from being a complicated set of interrelated, urgent but essentially predictable problems in the short-term response phase, into a complex systems problem. In this paper we will first show that the disaster literature assumes a linear progression from short-term to long-term recovery as part of a well-document disaster life cycle. Second, we suggest that this is based on a set of assumptions about the disaster recovery process which are potentially both limiting the possibilities of building a disaster resilient community and explaining current problems being experienced by those involved in disaster recovery worldwide. We then use data from Japan and Christchurch to offer evidence of the need to change some of the elements of the long-term recovery model.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)89-98
Number of pages10
JournalTechnological Forecasting and Social Change
Publication statusPublished - 10 Oct 2016

Bibliographical note

© 2016. This manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/


  • Change management
  • Social capital
  • Disaster resilience
  • Volunteering
  • Disaster recovery


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