Development of Disaster Resilient Communities

Public–Private Partnerships for
the Development of Disaster
Resilient Communities
Justine Chen*, Ted Hsuan Yun Chen**,
Ilan Vertinsky***, Lilia Yumagulova**** and
Chansoo Park*****
*The Institute of Asian Research, University of British Columbia, V6T 1Z4, Canada. E-mail:
[email protected]
**Department of Political Science, Pennsylvania State University, 16802, USA. E-mail: [email protected]
***The Sauder School of Business and the Institute of Asian Research, University of British Columbia,
V6T 1Z4, Canada. E-mail: [email protected]
****School of Community and Regional Planning, University of British Columbia, V6T 1Z4, Canada.
E-mail: [email protected]
*****Faculty of Business Administration, Memorial University of Newfoundland, A1B 3X5, Canada.
E-mail: [email protected]
Increasingly, countries around the world are adopting policies that emphasize the importance of partnerships for disaster resilience. The overarching questions that this paper
investigates are how to form and sustain (1) effective collaborative arrangements involving
governments, businesses, non-governmental organizations and communities to ensure
development of disaster resilient communities, and (2) governance institutions that can
effectively mobilize geographically dispersed disaster response resources with fragmented
ownership. We have reviewed case studies of alternative inter-sectoral collaborative
arrangements that were formed to (1) promote the development of resilient communities
and critical physical and social systems; (2) mitigate or respond to emerging crises; or (3)
facilitate post-disaster recovery and learning.We have developed grounded propositions
articulating the antecedents of performance of inter-sectoral collaborative arrangements.
1. Introduction
Among the most difficult challenges that governments currently face is the accelerated need to
increase the resilience of communities1 to disasters,
and the ability to respond effectively and recover from
them when disasters occur. Munich RE (2012) named
2011 as the costliest year on record for natural
disaster-induced financial losses worldwide ($380
billion, $105 billion of which were insured). The intensity of natural disasters is expected to grow as a consequence of climate change. Threats of terrorism
persist. Increases in the ‘complexity and tight coupling
of critical infrastructures, supply chains and economic
and social systems allow relatively small disturbances
to rapidly escalate into compound crises’ (Boin and
McConnell, 2007, p. 50). Numerous scholarly papers
reflected on Hurricane Katrina and other disasters
highlighted the need for governments to develop a
managerial framework that can mobilize, through a
collaborative network, private and public resources to
cope with large-scale disasters (e.g., Waugh & Streib,
2006; Mitchell, 2006; Kapucu, 2006). Hurricane Sandy
reignited the debate in the media (Klein, 2012;
Revkin, 2012; Lavelle, 2012) around the promise and
potential pitfalls of long-term impacts of public–private
Journal of Contingencies and Crisis Management Volume 21 Number 3 September 2013
© 2013 John Wiley & Sons Ltd DOI: 10.1111/1468-5973.12021
partnerships (PPPs) on the ability of communities to
cope with disasters.
Internationally, the key United Nations document
for disaster risk reduction, the Hyogo Framework for
Action (2005), recommended the establishment of PPPs
in order to better engage the private sector in reducing
the underlying risk factors that contribute to disasters.
Increasingly, countries around the world are adopting
policy frameworks that emphasize the importance of
partnerships for disaster resilience (e.g., Australian
Government, 2010, 2011; Public Safety Canada, 2009,
2011).While there are multiple competing definitions of
resilience, we take resilience to be the ability of a
community, an organization or a system to reduce the
impact of a threatening event, and bounce back to an
acceptable equilibrium. Resilience building may thus
include improvements in the ability to prevent shocks,
to absorb them when they occur (Timmerman, 1981;
Birkmann, 2006), to respond effectively and quickly
contain their damage, to have the capacity to
effect quick recovery (Bruneau, Chang, Eguchi, Lee,
O’Rourke, Reinhorn, Shinozuka, Tierney, Wallace, &
von Winterfeldt, 2003) and to promote learning
(UNISDR, 2005; Cutter, Barnes, Berry, Burton, Evans,
Tate, & Webb, 2008).
The overarching question this paper investigates is
how to form and sustain effective collaborative arrangements to ensure the development of resilient communities that are less prone to large-scale disasters. Our
objective is to develop a preliminary taxonomy and a
grounded theoretical framework that helps understand
potential outcomes of different attributes of collaborative arrangements. We examine the performance of
collaborative arrangements when the functional, social
and physical contextual variables related to both the
nature of the disaster and the social and physical
systems in which resilience development and disaster
response activities take place vary. We derive our
hypotheses from a review of case studies, surveys and
institutional documents.The case studies were selected
on the basis of a comprehensive literature review.The
selection criteria attempted to provide representation
in the space defined by the following dimensions: partnership governance structures, types of partners, objectives and phases of disaster management. Our selection
was constrained by the availability of published case
studies, especially from developing countries. Each of
the case studies serves as a distinct experiment in
which a particular form of collaboration was used to
increase resilience towards, to respond to or to facilitate recovery from a disaster. Examined together,
the series of case studies provide for replication or
contrasts, contributing to an emergent theoretical
framework. We focus mainly on organizational and
administrative matters and conclude the paper with
some implications of our findings for future broadening
of the discourse of a growing spectrum of partnership
for resilience.
We start in Section 2 with a brief review of the role
that inter-sector collaborative arrangements play in
disaster management. We follow with the articulation
of key characteristics of collaborative arrangements
and the key performance attributes of such collaborations required to effectively meet the challenges of
disaster management. This initial framework is used
to interpret the case studies presented in Section
3. Section 4 discusses our findings from the cases
reviewed, specifically focusing on the critical success
factors of PPPs.
2. Inter-sectoral collaboration
and partnership
Mitchell (2006, p. 237) asserts ‘partnership has long
been a central motif of U.S. public policies formulated in
response to natural hazards, disasters and catastrophes’. He argues that the need for partnership is a
function of societal complexity and the requirement to
coordinate actions of formal and informal groups in
preparing and responding to hazards. May and Williams
(1986) contend that the fragmented social responsibility for developing and implementing hazard
policies compels the use of partnership mechanisms.
Christoplos (2003) suggests that partnerships emerged
as a response to a broader trend that sees a smaller
role for the public sector. He asserts that ‘behind the
discourse on disasters, neoliberal policies have taken
hold and pressured states to assume a narrower set of
responsibilities’ (p. 95), without articulating clearly who
will shoulder responsibilities for disaster mitigation and
preparedness. Although consensus remains about the
policy leadership role that governments must assume,
there is a realization that they lack adequate resources
and capabilities to handle even recurring natural hazards
that are geographically dispersed. Some forms of intersector collaboration and resource pooling are, therefore, inevitable.
Arrangements between governments and private
sector entities where traditionally public activities are
performed partially or wholly by the private sector,
defined by Savas (2000) as PPPs, are ubiquitous. They
are embraced by a wide range of constituencies and
increasingly have become the default solutions to government problems and needs in an era of scarce public
resources. The trend to download and share responsibilities by governments with other sectors of society
reflects a variety of motives and beliefs. There is an
ongoing debate about the reality of the promise of
PPPs (Hayllar & Wettenhall, 2010; Siemiatycki, 2011)
and the challenges of measuring the benefits of collaboration (NRC, 2011; RECIPE, 2011). Some suggest
that partnerships can enhance production, increase
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quality and efficiency, provide access to new financial
resources and reduce exposure to risks (RECIPE,
2011) by reconstituting the role of the state in governing and regulating competitive market processes
(Siemiatycki, 2011).
Others argue that the benefits of PPPs are exaggerated and their consequences are unequally distributed
(Siemiatycki, 2011) and are often damaging to the public
interest (Hayllar & Wettenhall, 2010). The empirical
evidence is mixed; however, there is a growing international repertoire of successful working models for
PPPs in disaster management context (UNISDR, 2008;
NRC, 2011; Bajracharya, Hastings, Childs, & McNamee,
There is also a universal agreement that PPPs are
essential for preparing for, responding to and recovering
from large-scale natural disasters (NRC, 2011). Such
disasters have catastrophic local consequences when
they strike, but their occurrence is geographically distributed with low probabilities of occurrence at a specific location at a given time. Management of such
disasters poses difficult economic, political, social and
organizational challenges.The roles of partnerships that
emerge to cope with disasters vary as a function of the
distinct needs of the different (and often overlapping)
phases of disaster management.
3. Phases of disaster management
Building resilient communities and systems and increasing
preparedness to disasters requires long-term commitment to safety in the absence of immediate salient
threats and a willingness to invest resources that no
single sector possesses. Such commitment demands
more than a ‘marriage of interests that is easily sundered by events’ by partners (Mitchell, 2006, p. 239). It
requires a society-wide commitment to a shared
‘culture of preparedness’ (Kapucu, Hawkins, & Rivera,
2012, p. 2). This involves partnerships of community
organizations, private (profit and non-profit) enterprises and governments.
In developing resilience and preparedness, the
emphasis is on building soft and hard infrastructures for
preventing or reducing the probabilities of potentially
disastrous events, as well as increasing the capabilities of
the system to respond to them once they occur. This
stage consists of building physical infrastructures with
higher standards of safety, the ability to absorb shocks
and built-in redundancies that offer alternative means of
continuing essential services. Building a resilient soft
infrastructure includes the development of institutions
that allow effective mobilization of coping resources
when disasters strike, as well as building social and
human capital, such as social trust and know-how, the
essential ingredients in ensuring mobilization and coordination of first level responses. This disaster management stage also requires ensuring political sustainability
of long-term investments in resilience.
The response phase of disaster management is characterized by a focus on response speed and efficiency,
which requires effective coordination in an environment
characterized by high levels of stress and uncertainty
and disruptions in the operations of critical communications and management systems. Response to a disaster requires rapid mobilization and transfer of resources
to the location of the disaster.These coping resources
and logistic capabilities are distributed among communities, for profit and non-profit organizations, and governments. ‘Responder networks’ (Nowell & Steelman,
2012), typically consisting of members of affected communities, professional ‘first responders’, local organizations and emergent informal community organizations,
must act quickly and often in isolation or only with
access to overloaded communication channels.
The recovery stage requires resource mobilization and
pooling.This is when the sense of urgency is diminishing.
In this stage, local knowledge and ties to the community
are paramount. This stage often presents an opportunity for learning and reform. Recovery requires a sustainable collaboration between local communities and
organizations with external resources and know-how. It
requires dealing with individual and social trauma. Local
knowledge and specialized expert knowledge necessary for reconstruction and healing, as well as other
resources that are scarce in affected communities, must
be combined to restore social, economic and physical
systems, and to facilitate a move to a more sustainable
The types of functions that inter-sector collaborations fulfil in the three stages of disaster management
vary and so do key participants. Other variables that
might influence the nature of inter-sector collaborations
in disaster management include the type and scale of the
disaster, and the environment in which activities take
place.Technological development is also expanding the
opportunity for collaboration with communities by
allowing direct contact between individuals and government through a two-way communication.This presents
the practice of disaster management with advantages
and constraints of using Web 2.0 technology (Roberts,
2011;Lindsay, 2011) for building resilience, response and
recovery phases.Through the case studies described in
the following section, we will derive grounded propositions with respect to the relationships of some of these
attributes and the effectiveness of partnerships in developing resilient communities, responding to disasters
when they strike and facilitating recovery.
4. Case studies: common PPPs
For each phase of disaster management, we have identified the most commonly observed cross-sectoral
132 Justine Chen, Ted Hsuan Yun Chen, Ilan Vertinsky, Lilia Yumagulova and Chansoo Park
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partnership configurations in our sample (Table 1). Each
type of collaboration is briefly introduced and then
illustrated. For each case, we examine, where data are
available, the structure of the existing partnership,
including the division and assignment of tasks, source of
motivation and authority, degree of integration and
channels of communication. Following that, where applicable, we describe the results of the collaboration.This
section is primarily descriptive. It presents key facts
about the cases from which we later inductively derived
pertinent characteristics of cross-sectoral partnerships
and some performance parameters (such as the ability
of the partnership to fulfil its missions and fidelity of
partners to their commitments). It should be noted that
many collaborative arrangements are interdependent
and play a role in more than one phase of disaster
management. In our overall analysis, we consider explicitly the influence of the cyclical relationships between
resilience building, response and recovery activities,
as well as their effects on the evolving patterns of
4.1. Public–private contractual partnerships for
critical infrastructure
Critical infrastructures are assets and services essential
to the functioning of a system. Ensuring their safety and
capability to withstand shocks is a key to the development of disaster resilience (Stewart, Kolluru, & Smith,
2009, 344; Chang & Shinozuka, 2004; McDaniels, Chang,
Cole, Mikawoz, & Longstaff, 2008; Rinaldi, Peerenboom,
& Terrence, 2001; RECIPE, 2011; TISP, 2011). Increasingly, critical infrastructure protection policies are being
replaced by critical infrastructure resilience policies
(Australian Government, 2011; UK Cabinet Office,
2013; National Infrastructure Advisory Council, 2009).
These policies recognize that preventing breakdowns
to critical infrastructures during disasters cannot be
assured even with investment levels exceeding the
capacity of most economies; hence, they focus on risk
reduction rather than risk prevention. An emphasis on
partnerships for resilience is another common feature of
these policy frameworks.
As critical infrastructures are highly embedded in
communities, their breakdown greatly impacts the
ability of the nation to recover from disasters (Stewart
et al., 2009, p. 343).Therefore, they are of prime importance to governments, which have the responsibility of
ensuring public safety (Boin, Comfort, and Demchak,
2011). Yet, in most market economies, a large portion
of the critical infrastructure, and with that the expertise of its development and management, exists primarily in the private sector (Boin and McConnell, 2007;
Rothery, 2005). There is therefore a need for strong
public–private collaborative arrangements to ensure
effective investment in resilience given the shared
responsibility between governments and owners of
infrastructure to provide safety and security (RECIPE,
2011; TISP, 2011).The portfolio of these collaborations
typically includes a selection of tasks, such as design and
construction of infrastructure, financing and operations, varying in combination based on the needs and
obligations of the governments. Such collaboration
occurs through contractual relations between the government and private sector corporations, whereby the
latter is compensated for their provision of goods or
services in one of a variety of ways.These contractual
partnerships range from the traditional ‘design-bidbuild-transfer’ arrangements to various other more
creative arrangements such as the ‘build-own-operatetransfer’ common in Australia and the ‘Public Finance
Initiative’ in the United Kingdom (Ribeiro & Dantas,
2006; Vining & Boardman, 2008; Jefferies, 2006; Hayllar
& Wettenhall, 2010).
The uncertainty involved in many of these projects
requires more flexibility in the partnership to permit
adaptation to information revealed during the project.
In these cases, or when the operational expertise
comes from the private sector and not the government,
PPPs involve a significant degree of joint strategic
decision-making and delegation of operational responsibility to the private sector enterprises involved. Strategic decisions often include choices of trade-offs
between costs, risks and benefits, as well as key design
specifications. While governments retain the ultimate
decision as to what is ‘safe enough,’ i.e., the minimum
safety standards, through interactions with their private
sector partners, they can fine-tune safety decisions
so as to achieve maximum benefits within budget
Table 1. Common Types of Partnerships by Phase of Disaster Management
1. Building resilience 1. Public–private contractual partnerships for critical infrastructure
2. Public–private non-contractual partnerships for critical infrastructure
3. Government–community collaborative resilience building
2. Responding 1. For-profit, NGOs and government partnerships
2. Government–civil society partnerships
3. Government as one of many actors in a ‘many-to-many’ network partnership
3. Recovering 1. Public–private partnerships for physical reconstruction
2. Inter-sectoral partnerships for learning
NGOs, non-governmental organizations.
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The high degrees of uncertainty and discretion provided to project implementers in these cases mean that
contracts are incomplete and potentially involve frequent future renegotiations. Such contracts create high
risks of opportunism and transaction costs (e.g., monitoring, enforcement and conflict resolution). Joint ventures with incomplete contracts require high levels of
trust, the development of which requires long-term
relationship building and incentive structures that align
the interests of public and private collaborators.
4.2. Public–private non-contractual partnerships
for critical infrastructure
While contractual forms of public–private collaboration
are a characteristic of large construction projects and
provision of disaster-related services, non-contractual
forms of inter-sectoral collaboration have emerged to
facilitate the inter-sectoral coordination of resilience
development activities and provide overarching institutional structures for information sharing and inter- and
intra-sectoral policy dialogues.
In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks and Katrina, the
United States developed complex and sophisticated networks of such government–private collaborations. An
example of this type of partnership is the New Jerseybased Business Emergency Operations Center (BEOC)
Alliance, which is designated a ‘national partnership’
under the FEMA umbrella. The partnership was jointly
developed through a collaborative effort between the
New Jersey Institute of Technology, businesses who are
members in the New Jersey Business Force, and the
Armament Research Development and Engineering
Center (ARDEC), Picatinny Arsenal, NJ. It is an organization that exists mainly as a research and communication nexus for private sector organizations, primarily
businesses, to interface with public sector emergency
operations centres, other emergency management
agencies [e.g., the Department of Homeland Security
(DHS)] and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
Through their membership with the BEOC Alliance,
private companies seek to build resilience through
mutual information sharing with the public sector
(BEOC, 2011a).The Alliance has also developed the
capacity to serve as a mobilization hub for the pro bono
provision of material and human resources during disaster response. However, the Alliance is careful to limit
the scope of its responsibility, stating that it ‘intend[s] to
be an additional level of support to the Public Sector and
not to intrude upon the incident management responsibilities at play during response scenarios . . .’ (BEOC,
2011b).The Alliance also facilitates collaboration among
its private sector members, regularly hosting intersectoral emergency exercise drills.
The organizational structure of the Alliance comprises two levels. At the top are the Board (consisting
of representatives of the founding organizations) and
the governance committee (consisting of senior managers from the NJ Business Force organizations), which
are responsible for overseeing its policies and acting as
the institutional channel of communication to its public
sector partners.The second level is organized horizontally based on a ‘distributed nodal network structure
that aligns itself with a [community of practice and
community of interest] model’ (BEOC, 2011c).Within
this level, there is a system of tiered membership based
on a tiered fee structure that determines the degree
of access to benefits, effectively creating a marketlike structure. For example, at the highest tier,
‘Organizational Gold Members’ are physically represented in meetings with public sector organizations
such as the DHS and DOD (BEOC, 2011d).The tiered
membership fees, which fund the governance committee and the general functioning of the Alliance, are not
uncommon to these types of partnerships (Pacific
Northwest Economic Region, 2012).
The existing architecture of public–private collaboration discussed previously provides a variety of functions that support the development of resilience. From
the policy development perspective, the architecture
facilitates public–private consultation; it provides a
mechanism to co-opt private sector organizations
and increase legitimacy of resilience policies. From an
operational perspective, it enhances information sharing
within and across sectors and helps to create capacity
for increased coordination during disasters. Commitment to the Alliance tends to grow during the period of
domestic and high-impact salient foreign disasters, but
the Alliance faces challenges in motivating participants
in other times. Lack of trust (especially among private
sector participants and between these participants and
government agencies) may also present significant barriers to information sharing, despite institutional development that ought to facilitate communications.
4.3. Government–community collaborative
resilience building
The coordination structures described earlier are primarily limited to collaboration among the government,
businesses and larger NGO groups. However, attempts
are being made to increase the coordination of
community-based resources with public and professional organization. Part of this stems from the understanding that local communities play an integral part of
disaster resilience.
Hurricane Katrina highlighted the importance of
the coordination of community-based and government organizations and the effective utilization of
local informal social networks. During the response
to Hurricane Katrina, community-based organizations, particularly faith-based organizations (religious
134 Justine Chen, Ted Hsuan Yun Chen, Ilan Vertinsky, Lilia Yumagulova and Chansoo Park
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congregations), played a crucial part in providing relief
in the form of shelter and other basic life necessities
to those affected (Trader-Leigh, 2008).
However, despite the resources available at the community level, integration between the government disaster management systems and local community-based
organizations tends to be weak due to geographical,
cultural and institutional distances. This was evident in
the response to Hurricane Katrina. Testimonies from
local churches in Baton Rouge and its surrounding areas
indicate that there was no prior formal disaster training,
no clear division of tasks and no institutionalized communication network (Cain & Barthelemy, 2008; Pipa,
2006; Trader-Leigh, 2008).As a result, the churches felt
that there was a great degree of uncertainty as to what
their roles were in relation to FEMA and the American
Red Cross (Pipa, 2006, pp. 15–16). Contrasting the
US model for government–community collaborative
resilience with the Cuban model provides important
insights. First, the Cuban system is marked by extremely
high levels of political commitment to developing community resilience. Disaster response training starts in
childhood as a part of school curriculum and continues
with adult education at the community level. Every year
in May, this education is put to the test as the communities and government agencies participate in ‘Meteoro,’
a 2-day simulation in preparation for the hurricane
season.Through these investments, the central government fosters a ‘culture of preparedness’ (Kapucu et al.,
2012) and facilitates trust between authorities and the
community by sharing the decision-making apparatus concerning disaster management with community
leaders at the local level. In turn, this effectively
increases the community’s stakes in the resilience
system and increases its local legitimacy.
Secondly, integral to the Cuban model is its Civil
Defense system, through which local informal systems
are integrated into the formal hierarchical system
(Reed, 2008).Whereas in Hurricane Katrina, response
efforts were uncoordinated and ineffective due to
the lack of institutionalized communication systems
between various responders and the community, in
Cuba, the coordination and integration of activities is
achieved through a fish-scale role structure in which
members of the community, apart from fulfilling their
daily roles, have well-defined roles in the formal Civil
Defense system. For example, community members,
such as local officials, health workers and teachers, also
serve as evacuation coordinators responsible for resilience planning at the local level. Essentially, the ‘partnership’ between the local community-based resilience
system and the formal ‘top-down’ command-andcontrol system is integrated virtually through the minds
of individual responders who operate in dual capacities.
This affords them the capability to draw upon both
their formal training and local knowledge in a synergistic manner. As a result, when a hurricane strikes, the
community structure shifts seamlessly from its day-today function to emergency disaster response measures.
4.4. For-profit, NGOs and government
Response to a disaster once it has struck requires
mobilizing local resources and maintaining continuity of
critical supply chains. It is often assumed that in
advanced market economies, private sector companies
have the logistical capability to ensure the flow of supplies to first responders. This assumption was supported by reports that during Hurricane Katrina,
companies likeWal-Mart and Home Depot were organizing important distribution points for food, water and
other supplies, while truckloads of ice contracted by
FEMA were stranded for days without direction on
where to go (Flynn & Prieto, 2006, p. 9). The case of
Wal-Mart in Hurricane Katrina highlights both the
important contributions and the challenges that public–
private collaboration in response to a disaster can face.
In 2003, Wal-Mart founded its emergency operations
centre (EOC) that oversees the coordination, response
and recovery for business disruptions ranging from tornadoes to terrorism to epidemics. Since 2004, the EOC
has held an annual Hurricane Class, which trained more
than 100 managers developing local response capabilities (Rosegrant, 2007a).
Wal-Mart’s EOC had been closely following the
development of Katrina before it became a Category
Five Hurricane and had been adjusting its emergency
response accordingly.As part of the mobilization of the
EOC, Wal-Mart invited a senior official of the Red
Cross with whom it had collaborated previously in
other occasions to sit in on its EOC team. Experiences
previous to Hurricane Katrina suggested that it was
difficult to coordinate Red Cross and Wal-Mart efforts
to support communities.The invitation of a Red Cross
representative proved to be important to serve as a
conduit, where the retailer and the aid agency were able
to effectively coordinate aid relief resources and
responsibilities (Rosegrant, 2007a).
During the hurricane, Wal-Mart provided and
exchanged daily situation reports with federal (DHS
and the National Infrastructure Coordination Centre)
and state authorities, which used these reports as a
main source of information. It and other private sector
advisers also worked with FEMA to develop an evacuee
debit card for emergency purchases (Rosegrant, 2007a,
p. 20). Attempts to collaborate with relevant municipal
and federal emergency management authorities were
met with communicative and operational challenges.
For example, Wal-Mart’s offer of relief aid remained
unanswered by the DHS outpost in Baton Rouge
and attempts to send aid to New Orleans did not
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materialize due to the lack of directions from the
mayor’s office. Request by FEMA to place a representative in Wal-Mart EOC were rejected, reflecting its lack
of trust in ‘big’ government (Rosegrant, 2007a).
Wal-Mart’s relief efforts during Hurricane Katrina
attracted attention from state governments and federal
agencies who sought to develop more permanent partnerships with it.Wal-Mart accepted an invitation from
the state of Texas to station two representatives at the
Texas EOC to help the state respond to Hurricane Rita,
but declined several states’ contract offers to act as
their emergency merchandise supplier, explaining that
working with governments in such capacity is not compatible with its interest and expertise (Rosegrant,
2007b, p. 1). Instead, Wal-Mart proposed a broader
collaboration among big-box retailers to serve as the
states’ primary supply anchor.
This perhaps was due to the risks they may have
perceived from formal collaboration with powerful government agencies and recognition of fundamental difference in cultures and strategies. In particular, FEMA’s
idea of maintaining large inventories was incompatible
with the lean ‘just-in-time’ system that is critical for
Wal-Mart’s competitive advantage. Arguably, collaboration frameworks with a focus on expertise-based information sharing, consulting and technical support are
more attractive to corporations than contractual
arrangements, which may hinder their operational
autonomy or increase business risks.
4.5. Government–civil society partnerships
There is a long history of collaborative arrangements
between governments and civil society groups.This category encompasses a range of partnerships formed
between the government and organizations such as
international and national NGOs, faith-based organizations, local non-profit aid agencies and communities.
The most prominent among these partnerships of
organizations are large-scale NGOs, such as the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent
Societies (IFRC), which have traditionally played an
important role in disaster relief activities.These organizations often recognize disaster management as a part
of their central mandate and develop a core of professional disaster management responders backed by large
numbers of well-trained volunteers.
The ability of the IFRC’s national societies to act as
first responders and to connect with communities, corporations and governments has made them a critical
part of community resilience building (e.g., providing
extensive training for volunteers), as well as disaster
response and recovery (e.g., providing emergency
shelter and health care). Within the post-Katrina
American context, the collaboration between the Red
Cross and the government has become more integrated. In 2010, FEMA and the Red Cross signed a
Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) that recognizes
the American Red Cross as a key member of America’s
national emergency management team. The MOA also
set ‘the framework for the Red Cross and FEMA to
jointly lead the planning and coordination of mass care
services [during disasters]’ (FEMA, 2010). Furthermore, within the National Response Framework, the
Red Cross is designated as a support agency for mass
care, emergency management, and long-term community recovery and mitigation, among other emergency
support functions.
In other parts of the world, similar organizations have
emerged, forming their own collaborative arrangements
with their national governments. In Taiwan, the Tzu Chi
Foundation, the largest Buddhist organization, has developed both expertise and capacities to respond to
disasters.While Tzu Chi is a fully autonomous organization, it maintains strong ties to the official response
efforts working closely with the government and
responding to specific demands for support from the
government ministries (e.g., responding to the Ministry
of Education in the aftermath of ‘921’ earthquake to aid
to rebuild 293 collapsed schools) (Roney, 2011,
p. 94; Tzu Chi, n.d.).
In contrast, in China, NGOs are usually subject to
stringent regulations regarding their legal status. Following the Wenchuan earthquake, likely out of necessity,
local governments turned a blind eye to these regulations. Indeed, an NGO reported that when it asked for
permission to act, the government officials told it to
‘Stop asking and we won’t have to tell you “no” ’ (Roney,
2011, p. 85).With the temporary relaxation of oversight,
NGOs were afforded the space to collaborate with
local governments in an informal partnership. Their
most significant contribution was to coordinate participation of the individual volunteers. Unfortunately, these
efforts were largely ineffective.These grass-roots ‘emergent’ responders, who constituted the second type of
civic engagement, arrived in large numbers to aid the
relief efforts, but, likely because of their distrust and
unfamiliarity with NGOs, many attempted to participate directly.This resulted in an imbalance of aid across
various regions, which often led to the delay of resource
distribution due to congestion (Roney, 2011, p. 88).
4.6. Government as one of the many actors in
a ‘many-to-many’ network partnership
With the advancements in information communication
technology (ICT) and the new channels of communication these advancements afford, we witness the
emergence of new forms of partnerships between the
government and various sectors of society. Most significantly, there has been a shift in Internet use from what
was simply a much more rapid channel of the traditional
136 Justine Chen, Ted Hsuan Yun Chen, Ilan Vertinsky, Lilia Yumagulova and Chansoo Park
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‘one-to-one’ (e.g., letters, facsimile, telecommunication)
and ‘one-to-many’ (e.g., newspapers, radio broadcasts)
forms of communication to today’s ‘Web 2.0’, the new
‘many-to-many’ communication social media platforms
(e.g. Twitter). This has led to the emergence of new
coordination structures crucial to PPPs, especially as it
concerns the direction of communication from societal
partners to the government.While we present successful examples, the potential drawbacks of the use ofWeb
2.0 technologies also need to be considered.These may
include high monitoring costs on the part of the government, inaccurate or misleading information (intentional and unintentional), privacy concerns for data
stored in the public domain, and overreliance on technology during the periods of prolonged power outages
(Lindsay, 2011).
What ‘Web 2.0’ platforms do is shift the primary
means of coordination away from hierarchical forms of
organization to a network-based coordination structure, where the government is just one of the many
nodes within the network.Web 2.0 platforms provide a
constant flux of information from the masses to the
masses, much of it within the public domain. This has
many implications for the possibility of partnerships
during crises situations (Roberts, 2011). First, it facilitates the overall coordination among responders, and,
second, it results in the formation of new type of
network partnerships that were previously unfeasible.
The potential value of these ‘many-to-many’ platforms
to crisis response has long been recognized, but it was
not until the 2010 Haiti earthquake that it was realized
on a large scale.Two Web 2.0 platforms in particular –
Ushahidi, a website and open-source software originally
launched in 2007 to track reports of post-election violence in Kenya (Roberts, 2011), and OpenStreetMap
(OSM), a wiki-based open-source mapping platform
regularly aimed at creating a database of free geographical data (OpenStreetMap, 2011) – serve to illustrate the
networking potential of ‘many-to-many’ structures.
Within 2 hours following the earthquake in Haiti on
January 12, the team at Ushahidi started to mobilize
Haitian diaspora to translate SMS,Twitter and Facebook
messages coming from people who were trapped and
needed help. In conjunction with a team at the Fletcher
School of Diplomacy at Tufts University, they managed
to mobilize over 10,000 translators who contributed
via various forms of ICT (Meier, 2010). Through this
initiative (which came to be called Project 4636 after
the code provided free of charge by Haiti’s largest
telecommunications company Digicel for anyone on
the ground needing to text for help), volunteers geolocated the origins of these messages, tagged their
location on the map and relayed the information to
on-the-ground responders, such as the Red Cross and
the US military (Roberts, 2011; Johnson, Crowley, &
Erle, 2010).
Aside from knowing the coordinates of people
requiring aid, on-the-ground responders also needed
the most up-to-date information of the situation in the
affected areas. Based on an unprecedented release of
aerial imagery from GeoEye and Google under an open
license (Burq, 2010), the OSM platform enabled volunteers to quickly update the map of Port-Au-Prince and
surrounding areas. The type of ‘crowdsourcing’ that
these efforts relied on proved to be extremely effective
compared to other forms of mapping.This was primarily
a result of the high degree of participation that the
open-source platform afforded to individuals who
wanted to help. OSM’s wiki-platform allowed each individual volunteer to input a small amount of data onto
the map based on the aerial images made available.
Figures show that over the course of the mapping
initiative, more than 1,000 volunteers contributed data
in varying amounts (Johnson, Crowley, & Erle, 2010).
While most of these inputs would otherwise be insignificant by themselves, as a collaborative effort, they
produced ‘the most complete digital map of Haiti’s
roads, hospitals, triage centers and refugee camps’
(Richmond, 2010, para 4).
As evident from the two examples in the aftermath
of the Haiti earthquake, ‘many-to-many’ networks built
on rapid ICT platforms open new possibilities for
disaster response. In both cases, the speed of communication afforded by the ICT was a key in the coordination of the response efforts. More ground breaking,
however, is the mobilization that these platforms allow.
Traditionally, people had two ways of contributing to
response efforts. First, they could travel to the affected
locale under the organization of various agencies.
Second, they could send monetary aid.There is a large
discrepancy in the level of commitment between these
two possible ways to respond. The former takes an
inordinate amount of commitment and resources. Individuals who are unable to commit to that extent are
relegated to donating money.Web 2.0 platforms bridge
this gap. In as short as the 3 minutes spent learning
about how to use the OSM technology and five more
inputting a small amount of data, individuals can actively
partake in response efforts, greatly increasing their
willingness to volunteer (Johnson, Crowley, & Erle,
Crowdsourcing the gathering and compiling of geographic data, also known as participatory GIS (PGIS),
clearly has its applications in crisis response. Beyond
this, however, PGIS also affords us a more ‘democratic’
way of governance that facilitates better resilience
building through empowering the grass-roots (McCall,
2003, 2008). For example, more than just gather local
knowledge regarding risk sites (e.g., historical flooding
points along a river) through PGIS and act upon that
unilaterally, practitioners may ask locals to identify their
priorities in resilience building, which then allows for an
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allocation of resiliency resources that is more congruent with local needs (Maceda, Gaillard, Stasiak, & Berre,
2009; McCall, 2008). Such an endeavour would not
require much more technical start-up costs than other
applications of PGIS, but affords local engagement in
such a way that lends credibility to resiliency efforts
(Maceda et al., 2009).
4.7. PPPs for physical reconstruction
As noted in Section 4.4, in the immediate response to
a disaster, for-profit enterprises often, in addition to
financial donations, make contributions in-kind based
on their expertise. Wal-Mart’s provision of logistical
support and supplies is an example of this. Engineering
and construction companies, due to their prevalence,
and the high value of their expertise to disaster
response, often make significant contributions as well.A
review of cases during the 10-year period from 1999 to
2009 shows that in the immediate aftermath of a disaster, these companies often offered their services
through informal ad hoc arrangements on a pro bono
basis such as secondment of staff to government disaster response agencies or to large-scale NGOs of
a similar nature (World Economic Forum, 2010).
However, as relief efforts become less urgent with the
shift from response to recovery, the nature of public–
private collaborations changes as well, and more-formal
arrangements become established.
In the aftermath of the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami,
the activities of three construction companies, CH2M
Hill Companies, Arup Group and Halcrow Group, are
illustrative of this type of arrangement. In the immediate
response phase, all three companies engaged in internal
fundraising activities, raising over US$80,000, $370,000
and $149,000, respectively. CH2M Hill provided professional support to large-scale international relief agencies.It also set up water treatment plants in BandaAceh,
Indonesia, and Potuvil, Sri Lanka, the former in partnership with GE (WEF, 2010, p. 44).Arup, whose contributions came primarily as technical support, seconded two
staff members to assist with logistics and water and
sanitation engineering (WEF, 2010, p. 45). Halcrow provided office space in its local agency to Oxfam for its
operations. It also identified families in need and provided relief where needed (WEF, 2010, p. 46).
As the focus of relief efforts shifted to recovery,
more-formal partnerships were established between
the public sector and the construction companies. Just
less than a year following the Tsunami, USAID contracted CH2M Hill for recovery support in Sri Lanka,
where 14 major projects were completed under the Sri
Lanka Tsunami Reconstruction Program, and in Maldives, where two sea water treatment and supply facilities were constructed (CH2M Hill, 2007; CH2M Hill,
2008). The contracted terms lasted over 39- and
24-month periods, respectively (WEF, 2010, p. 44).Arup
also received several paid commissions to provide technical services in the form of strategic advice and technical expertise (WEF, 2010, p. 45).
As already mentioned, the involvement of these construction companies tends to shift from ad hoc pro
bono collaboration to a contractual for-profit basis,
sometimes with a ‘provision-at-cost’ stage in between
(WEF, 2010, p. 28).Testimonies from high-level managers
indicate that immediately following a disaster, noninstrumental motivation for sending aid was strongest.
Many of the staff secondments were provided on a
voluntary basis by the individuals, while other costs
were covered through internal fundraising, corporate
donations and corporate social responsibility budgets
(WEF, 2010, p. 27). As time passed and the urgency of
disaster relief started to wane, the companies began to
face pressure to account for the costs of their operations and the partnerships often needed to be sustained
through contracting. One should note that the distribution of flows of benefits and costs among the participants in such contracting depends typically on the
players’ relative negotiating and bargaining powers, contextual variables such as the political urgency of tasks to
be accomplished by the partnership, the availability of
competitors, public opinion and scrutiny, reputational
concerns on both sides of the partnership, and the legal
framework for government contracting.
4.8. Inter-sectoral learning initiatives
Learning has been a focus of both scholarship and
practice of the hazards/disasters and the emergency
management fields. As O’Brien et al. (2012, p. 439)
suggest, ‘Learning processes are central in shaping the
capacities and outcomes of resilience in disaster risk
management . . .’ The importance of organizational
(Comfort, 1994; Corbacioglu & Kapucu, 2006), institutional (Handmer & Dovers, 2007), social (Birkmann
et al., 2010; Pelling & High, 2005) and policy-learning
(Birkland, 2004) where collaboration, joint decisionmaking, and participation of multiple stakeholders contribute to the initiation of learning processes are
frequently emphasized. Learning reduces uncertainty
(Moynihan, 2008), and mutual learning and action
develop trust (Kapucu, Augustin, & Garayev, 2009).
Developing trust allows for overcoming one of the key
challenges of private–public collaboration – the incomplete and ineffective sharing of information concerning
threats and vulnerabilities (NRC, 2011).
Partnerships can become ‘learning laboratories’ at
the resilience building stage, during response to disasters (Tomasini & Van Wassenhove, 2009) and during
recovery (Birkmann, Buckle, Jäger, Pelling, Setiadi,
Garschagen, Fernando, & Kropp, 2010). For example,
at the resilience building stage, collaborating with
138 Justine Chen, Ted Hsuan Yun Chen, Ilan Vertinsky, Lilia Yumagulova and Chansoo Park
Journal of Contingencies and Crisis Management
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local educational institutions increases access to local
resources and capabilities (NRC, 2011), enhances the
feedbacks between research and practice, and contributes to building the culture of preparedness by engaging
students from various educational institutions. Postdisaster space offers opportunities for catalyzed learning, which can create tipping points for transformation
(Pelling & Dill, 2010) for promoting pro-active resilience
We provide two examples of learning platforms
relating to different phases of disaster management that
span varying temporal and spatial scales in terms of the
size, length and distance from community: (1) university
learning initiatives through shared technology and (2) a
national resilience building network.
An example of learning and information sharing platform for building resilience at a community scale is the
Disaster Response Intelligent System (DRIS), a GISbased mapping technology developed after Hurricane
Katrina for county-level emergency managers to plan,
respond, recover and mitigate the impact of disasters
(Robinson & Dowty Beech, 2013).The system is adaptable for specific applications in the public and private
sectors and universities, regardless of hazard, given that
all disasters are localized and require input of basic
information for practical decision-support (Robinson &
Dowty Beech, 2013).
The system has a strong educational objective in
building ‘culture or preparedness’ (Kapucu, 2008).Incorporated into the teaching curriculum, DRIS is connected with the emergency management community in
which each university resides. In addition to serving
as an inter-sectoral learning platform for identifying
common interdependencies, the tool is also seen as a
potential partnership building and collaborative disaster
planning mechanism between communities, universities,
local non-profit organizations and businesses (Robinson
& Dowty Beech, 2013).
An example of learning and information sharing platform for building resilience at a national scale is the
AustralianTrusted Information Sharing Network (TISN)
for Critical Infrastructure Resilience (CIR).The network
functions as the primary mechanism to build a partnership approach between business and government for
CIR (Australian Government, 2011). Infrastructure
resilience as a shared responsibility is a core founding
principle of the network.
The network includes (1) critical infrastructure
owners and operators (such as communications, energy
and others,most of which are privately owned; Rothery,
2005); (2) representatives from Australian, State and
Territory government agencies; and (3) associations of
industries or groups with allied interests (TISN, 2013).
TISN is not an operational network but instead it
focuses on medium- to-long-term policy issues and
creates a secure environment for sharing critical information for resilience building (Rothery, 2005). It facilitates learning by developing a better understanding of
cross-sectoral issues such as interdependencies and
vulnerabilities on a national or cross-jurisdictional basis.
Developing organizational resilience is seen as an
important new strategic imperative compared with the
more traditional approach of developing hazard-specific
plans and response capabilities. The creation of this
network by the Australian Government required a
certain amount of legislative reform at the Commonwealth State and Territory levels in order to provide
secure channels for information sharing and research
across public–private boundaries while ensuring its
confidentiality and excluding liabilities. Regular interaction in a non-competitive environment allows for
building trust among the stakeholders and deepens
communication pathways. The network facilitates
horizontal communication (e.g., across critical infrastructure sectors) and also allows for vertical
government–industry communication (a direct line of
communication to the Attorney-General).
Despite the spatial and temporal differences, the two
examples of inter-sectoral partnerships highlight the
importance of learning for building resilience through
increased awareness of interdependencies and mutual
capacities. The presence of continuous sustained and
safe learning and information sharing platform can contribute to the culture of preparedness by providing a
mechanism for regular interaction and facilitating partners’ buy-in. Joint learning also contributes to mutual
trust building, which is a key success factor for an
effective partnership (Kapucu, Augustin, & Garayev,
5. Discussion and conclusion
In selecting the case studies we have described in the
previous section, we have tried to provide representation of the types of inter-sectoral partnerships that
emerged to cope with disaster management in terms
of the variety of partners, types of governance structures and the objectives. Each study represented a
unique experiment. The limited scope of the group of
case studies in our sample and the enormous variety
of partnership types and their contexts have constrained the degree of replication and the inferences
we could draw from them. Despite these limitations,
we were able to gain from the study insights into some
common operational and administrative issues associated with disaster management partnership as well as
insights about the nature of the growing spectrum of
Examination of all our case studies reveals several
common problems that disaster management partnerships face. The severity of these problems and the
means of resolving them vary, in part, as a function of
Public–Private Partnerships for Resilient Communities 139
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the uncertainty and complexity of the tasks they were
formed to perform and the mix of partners’ characteristics and inter-relationships. In complex, uncertain environments, flexible adaptive coordination and control
mechanisms are required. Formal mechanisms such as
contracts and formal plans that may work well in partnerships for construction of critical infrastructure and
post-crisis recovery restoration may fail to respond to
changing unanticipated conditions. Sole reliance on
formal hierarchical controls and coordination mechanisms, even in these partnerships, may involve prohibitive monitoring, enforcement and other transaction
costs. Our case studies highlight the critical roles played
in ensuring alignment and coordination among partners
by (1) relational and social capital, and (2) social,
organizational and economic mechanisms.
‘Social capital’ (e.g. trust, reciprocity and commitment to the collective) is a significant factor to success
in forming and sustaining disaster management PPPs.
Social capital emphasizes the positive outcomes of
sociability and gives value to non-monetary forms of
capital as sources of ‘power’ and ‘influence’ (Portes,
1998).As a by-product, it forms a resource that can be
used for public good (Portes & Landolt, 1996) (e.g., at
a community level, the Disaster Response Intelligent
System partnership building, United States; and, at
the national level, the Trusted information Sharing
Network, Australia). A history of successful collaboration is likely to build social capital, increasing rapport
and trust between parties involved, both of which are
highly likely to be conducive towards a well-functioning
future partnership.We find evidence of this, e.g., from
our comparison of government–civil society relationships in China and Taiwan. Whereas long-established
Buddhist organizations with a history of successful collaboration with the government (e.g., Tzu Chi) were
able to function effectively as the intermediary actors
responsible for coordinating official and private
responses in Taiwan, the lack of a pre-established
pattern of collaboration between the government and
NGOs in China meant that when the latter was called
upon to take on the coordination role, results were
less successful than what could have been. The
repeated cooperation between USAID and construction companies such as CH2M Hill and Arup following
the Indian Ocean Tsunami and the relationships
between Red Cross and Wal-Mart are other examples
of the importance of previous successful histories of
partnerships. Of course, not all partnerships enjoy high
degrees of ‘social capital,’ and, as such, must instead rely
on institutional design to counteract deficiencies in
trust, established channels of communication and commitment to partnerships.
Institutionalization of many of the routines and practices of a partnership and its values provides for
increased informal control and coordination. We find
that, ceteris paribus, the higher degree of institutionalization, defined as established patterns of behaviour and
interaction, the greater the likelihood of partnerships
being successful. Repeated collaborative interaction,
often facilitated by a high degree of institutionalization,
creates personal relationships and informal lines of
communication beyond those offered by formal structures.The lifelong socialization of Cubans to cope with
hurricanes and the consequent creation of a culture of
preparedness are examples of community members
and government officials taking for granted the fulfilment of their expected roles and actions taken in
preparation and response to an approaching hurricane,
even when left to act in isolation. In other situations
such as those involving institutionalized collaborations
between the Red Cross and the US government agencies, the evolution of task-orientated informal channels
of communication that can often bypass more rigid
bureaucratic channels initiated a process of change, as
well as lower transaction costs. Indeed, in partnerships
between governments and NGOs, governments bound
by inflexible regulations use the flexibility of their partners to respond when they are unable to do so
because of the regulations.The examination of the participant make-up in the partnerships reviewed also suggests that there are distance thresholds between
partners beyond which effective partnerships become
unlikely without employment of mechanisms to bridge
these distances. Distance can be cultural, geographical
or institutional. This phenomenon is most clearly illustrated through partnerships between governments and
community-level actors because the various distances
between them tend to be greater than the distance
between governments and larger, more established
private sector organizations. For example, because of
the institutional distance between FEMA and the FBOs
during Hurricane Katrina, established formal and informal channels of communication were poorly developed, and information exchange took place on an ad
hoc basis. Ad hoc communication channels often lack
legitimacy and are noisy and slow. In contrast, the
Cuban Civil Defense system acts as an integrative
structure that overcomes the distance between the
state and communities allowing the formation of a successful partnership for disaster response and resilience
development.The ‘fish-scale structure’ with overlapping
memberships of the Cuban Civil Defense leadership
and community leaders provides bridges between otherwise distant social organizations. The findings here
suggest that, where distance between the government
and the relevant community or private sector entities
is unavoidable, collaborative arrangements can be
successful if there is an intermediary structure (or
partner) with strong ties to all partners. Examples
include the Red Cross and the Red Crescent Societies
worldwide,Tzu Chi in Taiwan andWeb 2.0 platforms, all
140 Justine Chen, Ted Hsuan Yun Chen, Ilan Vertinsky, Lilia Yumagulova and Chansoo Park
Journal of Contingencies and Crisis Management
Volume 21 Number 3 September 2013 © 2013 John Wiley & Sons Ltd
of which serve to bridge the distances between governments and communities.
Alignment of incentives between public and private
sector partners is important. Alignment of objectives
can be achieved through incentives, both positive and
negative. The problem of designing effective incentive
system is that it requires accurate measurement of
performance, correcting for all the contingencies that
may influence it. In situations that are complex and
involve high uncertainty, incentive systems rarely work
properly. Furthermore, providing incentives requires
trust between the partners. Wal-Mart, e.g., although
heavily involved with the government’s efforts during
the response to Hurricane Katrina declined, postdisaster, requests from several state governments to
contract it as their emergency merchandise supplier,
citing differences in interests and approaches.
The review of the cases also revealed the immense
opportunities that technological change is opening for a
new and growing spectrum of disaster management
partnerships, expanding possibilities for inclusion, networking, information exchange, knowledge transfer and
resource mobilization.The emergence of a global community that shares experiences may increase awareness
of vulnerability to disasters that may be missing in
geographical locations that have not experienced one
for a while. Maintenance of interest and awareness are
important for sustaining political, social and economic
support for the more traditional but essential forms of
disaster management partnerships.Technology also provides the means for the emergence of new forms of
temporary partnerships and networks of partnerships
that can flexibly mobilize expertise and mobile
resources to meet the demands irrespective of distance. Technology, however, may also pose some
significant risks. Saturation of information may lead to
indifference and confusion.Temporary partnerships may
replace the relational and social capital built through
long-term collaborations, opening the doors for opportunism and loss of expertise.
Technological progress is inevitable. How disaster
management partnership should change, how inequities
rooted in the digital divide are to be addressed in
developing and developed countries by new types
of disaster management partnerships, and what
organizational traditions should be kept are among the
strategic questions that conversations about the future
of PPPs for disaster management should address.
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