Natural Hazards

, Volume 89, Issue 3, pp 1461–1483 | Cite as

A review of game theory applications in natural disaster management research

  • Daniel Seaberg
  • Laura Devine
  • Jun ZhuangEmail author
Review Article


Research for efficiently planning and responding to natural disasters is of vital interest due to the devastating effects and losses caused by their occurrence, including economic deficiency, casualties, and infrastructure damage. Following the large breadth of natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and the earthquake in Haiti in 2010, we observe a growing use of game theoretic models in the research concerning natural disaster management. In these models, government agencies and private companies interact as players in a disaster relief game. Notable research in these areas has studied multi-player games and multi-agency collaboration, among others, to provide insights into optimal decisions concerning defensive investment and private–public partnerships in the face of disaster occurrence. This paper aims to increase the comprehension of game theory-based research in disaster management and to provide directions for future research. We analyze and integrate 57 recent papers (2006–2016) to summarize game theory-based research in natural disaster and emergency management. We find that the response phase of disaster relief has been researched most extensively, and future research could be directed toward the other phases of disaster management such as mitigation, preparedness, and recovery. Attacker–defender games to be utilized relatively frequently to model both mitigation and response for a disaster. Defensive resource allocation and sequential/simultaneous games to model the interaction between agencies/individuals in light of a disaster are two other common ways to model disaster management. In addition to academia, the targeted audience of this research includes governments, private sectors, private citizens, and others who are concerned with or involved in disaster management.


Game theory Natural disaster Disaster management Emergency management 



This research was partially supported by the United States National Science Foundation (NSF) under award numbers 1200899 and 1334930. This research was also partially supported by the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) through the National Center for Risk and Economic Analysis of Terrorism Events (CREATE) under award number 2010-ST-061-RE0001. However, any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations in this document are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect views of the NSF, DHS, or CREATE.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Industrial and Systems EngineeringUniversity at BuffaloBuffaloUSA

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