Public Organization Review

, Volume 15, Issue 3, pp 415–431

Chaos Theory and Organizational Crisis: A Theoretical Analysis of the Challenges Faced by the New Orleans Police Department During Hurricane Katrina


    • Department of Sociology & AnthropologyHoward University
  • Larry D. Stewart
    • Department of Social and Behavioral ScienceSavannah State University

DOI: 10.1007/s11115-014-0284-9

Cite this article as:
Adams, T.M. & Stewart, L.D. Public Organiz Rev (2015) 15: 415. doi:10.1007/s11115-014-0284-9


The Hurricane Katrina disaster presented the first responder agencies of New Orleans with an extraordinary set of circumstances. Although all first responder operations were hampered by the disaster, the police department’s struggles were made most visible in the media. This article examines the impact of Hurricane Katrina on the organizational functions of the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) during and immediately after the disaster using chaos theory as a model for analyzing the crisis faced by the department. Chaos theory has implications for a variety of features that are essential to organizational functions and management behavior that are relevant to first responder agencies. Review of the challenges faced by NOPD has implications for preparedness plans for other first responder agencies.


Chaos TheoryNatural DisastersHurricane KatrinaFirst RespondersNew Orleans Police Department

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014