Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW)

, Volume 23, Issue 4–6, pp 347–387 | Cite as

Information and Expertise Sharing in Inter-Organizational Crisis Management

  • Benedikt Ley
  • Thomas Ludwig
  • Volkmar Pipek
  • Dave Randall
  • Christian ReuterEmail author
  • Torben Wiedenhoefer


Emergency or crisis management, as is well-attested, is a complex management problem. A variety of agencies need to collaborate and coordinate in real-time and with an urgency that is not always present in other domains. It follows that accurate information of varying kinds (e.g. geographical and weather conditions; available skills and expertises; state-of-play; current dispositions and deployments) needs to be made available in a timely fashion to the organizations and individuals who need it. By definition, this information will come from a number of sources both within and across organizations. Large-scale events in particular necessitate collaboration with other organizations. Of course, plans and processes exist to deal with such events but the number of dynamically changing factors as well as the high number of heterogeneous organizations and the high degree of interdependency involved make it impossible to plan for all contingencies. A degree of ongoing improvisation, which typically occurs by means of a variety of information and expertise sharing practices, therefore becomes necessary. This, however, faces many challenges, such as different organizational cultures, distinct individual and coordinative work practices and discrete information systems. Our work entails an examination of the practices of information and expertise sharing, and the obstacles to it, in inter-organizational crisis management. We conceive of this as a design case study, such that we examine a problem area and its scope; conduct detailed enquiries into practice in that area, and provide design recommendations for implementation and evaluation. First, we will present the results of an empirical study of collaboration practices between organizations and public authorities with security responsibilities such as the police, fire departments, public administration and electricity network operators, mainly in scenarios of medium to large power outages in Germany. Based on these results, we will describe a concept, which was designed, implemented and evaluated as a system prototype, in two iterations. While the first iteration focuses on situation assessment, the second iteration also includes inter-organizational collaboration functionalities. Based on the findings of our evaluations with practitioners, we will discuss how to support collaboration with a particular focus on information and expertise sharing.

Key words

Information management Expertise sharing Collaboration Design case study Inter-organizational crisis management CSCW 



The project ‘InfoStrom’ was funded by a grant of the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research (No. 13N10712).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Benedikt Ley
    • 1
  • Thomas Ludwig
    • 1
  • Volkmar Pipek
    • 1
  • Dave Randall
    • 1
  • Christian Reuter
    • 1
    Email author
  • Torben Wiedenhoefer
    • 1
  1. 1.University of SiegenSiegenGermany

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