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Considering Inter-organizational breaks when implementing resilience
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1  Université Paris-Dauphine PSL, Paris, France


In most recent cases of cross-border disasters, inter-organizational coordination and cooperation emerged as a burning stake. According to Pendall et al. (2012), the resilience of a region depends on the governance of responsibilities of communities and networks. Empirical evidence reveals that mutual and coordinated actions within and between communities can make a difference in the outcome of a disaster. However, coordination between various organizations, anchored in multiple professional, culture and political settings can generate crisis within disaster response. While research has emphasized uncertainty and complexity as inherent features of coordination, the variables that account for collective action collapse remain largely unknown. Our contribution aims at proposing the concept of inter-organizational break as a relevant lens to address this lack. Inter-organizational breaks (IoB) correspond to social disruptions that result in conflicts amplifications (Ansell, Boin, Keller,2010) and an erosion of social links between organizational responders (Moynihan, 2009).

In cross-border disasters, tensions that generate IoB stem from three potential sources: i) professional diversity among responders, ii) diverging expertise and iii) cultural diversity.

Cultural diversity, especially, represents a burning issue in that it can catalyze collective action collapse. Cultural diversity embodies into diverging legal frames, divergent crisis policies and contradictory agendas between the two sides of a frontier (Ansell, Boin, Keller;2010). In addition, cultural diversity can account for frequent misunderstandings (Dayton et al,2004).

Highlighting IoB allows tackling major practical issues that have remained unaddressed so far, such as:

  • Governance fragmentation (lack of organizational and collective empowerment or on the contrary emergence of several local leaderships to handle the disaster)
  • Communication breakdown (rumors, information retention, delay, overloaded information, information unreliability)

We propose i) to detail the insights from reliance on this concept, ii) the practical implications of IoB on the future of crisis response in borderland, iii) a research agenda on IoB and resilience in cross-border regions.

Keywords: Inter-organizational breaks , borderland resilience, culture