This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

The Role of Information Technology in Effective Recovery and Aiding Sustainability of Coastal Regions After a Disaster




Cumbie, Barry

Type of Degree





In 2004 Hurricane Ivan caused an estimated $13 billion of damage in the United States. The economic impact can presumably be reduced by implementing information technology (IT) disaster recovery methods. This dissertation addresses the question of what factors influence decision makers in coastal communities to adopt IT disaster recovery methods that are perceived to ensure a successful recovery. A literature review and Delphi study lead to a theoretical research model and ten research hypotheses. Two separate focus groups were conducted among coastal community stakeholders who were identified for their expertise in this area. The transcriptions from the focus groups were both analyzed using the content analysis technique in which data were independently coded. The results of content analyses indicated that network collaboration was the most important factor related to the extent of adoption of IT disaster recovery methods. From this and other results, this research study concludes that communities interested in recovery and sustainability after a disaster should attempt to form relationships with external institutions and organizations to accomplish an otherwise overly difficult task. The difficult task is to facilitate post-disaster recovery by collecting and preserving all critical data that are useful in recovery efforts. These data include the full range of infrastructure data that tend to be dispersed across a network of actors who possess varied values on critical data and react differently to disaster warnings. The network of actors are the stakeholders among the community, for example the real estate rental industry (e.g. property owners and managers, condominium association presidents and boards), the construction industry (e.g. builders, electricians, surveyors, inspectors, engineers, architects), local and state governments and organizations (e.g. city building departments and engineers, utility service providers), the insurance industry (e.g. adjustors and providers), and other business owners. The contribution of this research include a theoretically derived and empirically validated research model that is a platform for future and more comprehensive research in this area. Community stakeholders and especially those involved in public policy are advised from the results to recognizing the deep interdependencies of organizations and the community as well as the value of engaging in relationships to overcome the task of collecting, protecting, and effectively using critical infrastructure data in the interest of post-disaster recovery. The culmination of these efforts can extend the sustainability of communities. Disaster can strike without warning; however, a graceful recovery is possible so long as community decision makers purposefully seek to understand the collaborative efforts necessary to overcome the complexities of community disaster recovery planning, such as those advanced by this research.