The role of local entrepreneurs in promoting disaster recovery: a review of Community Revival in the Wake of Disaster
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Community Revival in the Wake of Disaster: Lessons in Local Entrepreneurship represents a major contribution to social science knowledge regarding the roles that local entrepreneurs may play in promoting community recovery after disaster. The authors of this text conceive of entrepreneurs as individuals who are able to recognize and act on opportunities to promote social change. Importantly, they acknowledge that entrepreneurs may have many different orientations and goals – ranging from traditional commercial profit-seeking to social, political, or ideological change. This text draws on rich interview and observational data to highlight the activities of entrepreneurs who were active after Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy. The case studies in the book reveal that entrepreneurs can serve as goods and service producers; can help re-establish social networks and provide a forum for the exchange of knowledge and resources; and can signal to others that community rebound is under way. This review of the book is organized around questions related to: (1) The role of the government in funding and regulating post-disaster recovery; (2) The possibility for entrepreneurs, knowingly or unknowingly, to introduce changes that have immediate or enduring negative consequences for affected communities; and (3) The requisite characteristics of entrepreneurs themselves and who they actually help after disaster. Anyone who is interested in public-private partnerships, post-disaster recovery, and community resilience would benefit from reading this informative and provocative text.
KeywordsDisaster recovery Resilience Entrepreneurs Social change Hurricane Katrina Superstorm Sandy
JEL codesB53 D71 H84 Q54
I would like to thank the Mercatus Center at George Mason University for hosting a book panel where a first version of these comments were presented and where I had an opportunity to meet and learn from the authors and other panelists. I would also like to thank my graduate student and long-time collaborator, Jennifer Tobin, for her helpful feedback and research assistance.
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