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Conditions for Effective Coproduction in Community-Led Disaster Risk Management

Abstract

This paper reports on a case study of collective coproduction in an Australian community-based disaster risk management (CBDRM) project called “Be Ready Warrandyte”. The first goal of the case study was to understand what interactions and power-sharing between citizens and government “looked and felt like” in a significant example of community-led CBDRM in an Australian context. Its second, broader goal was to test the extent to which foundational coproduction theory, specifically four conditions proposed by Elinor Ostrom for enabling coproduction that is more effective than either government or citizen production alone, can explain the citizen-government interactions, roles and contributions that enable successful community-led CBDRM. The study confirms that each of the four conditions—complementarity, authority, incentives and credible commitment—also apply to community-led as well as government-led initiatives. It reinforces the central importance of complementarity for avoiding offloading of risk, responsibility and cost to citizens from government, while also suggesting that specific sources of internal and external authority, incentives, and credible commitment are especially important when coproduction is community-led. It identifies leadership and its impacts on government-citizen relationships and power-sharing in coproduction as an important area that needs further research.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    The practice of CBDRM is more advanced than its conceptualisation due to its origins and development as a field approach used by national and international NGOs as well as governments. One of the most cited definitions of CBDRM, for example, comes from a field practitioner’s handbook developed by the Asian Disaster Preparedness Center (Abarquez and Murshed, 2004, p. 9).

  2. 2.

    South Warrandyte has since become an integrated station with both paid and volunteer fire fighters.

  3. 3.

    Note that interviewee’s participant categories, from Table 1, are not included to maintain participant anonymity.

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Acknowledgements

The author would like to thank the Be Ready Warrandyte team for their generosity in sharing their experiences and wisdom, and her colleagues at RMIT University on the “Out of uniform” research project that this case study was a part of: Professor John Handmer and Dr Joshua Whittaker. Thanks also go to the Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre for funding this research in conjunction with the Centre for Risk and Community Safety at RMIT University.

Funding

This research was funded by the Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre and RMIT University as part of the “Out of uniform: building community resilience through non-traditional emergency volunteering” project, see http://www.bnhcrc.com.au/research/resilient-people-infrastructure-and-institutions/248.

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Correspondence to Blythe J. McLennan.

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Conflict of interest

The author was a member of the initial steering committee for the Be Ready Warrandyte project for 6 months from July 2012. She also provided advice on bushfire research to community leaders during the preparation of an application for state government funding for the project, and assisted with the design, analysis and reporting of a community survey led by the Warrandyte Community Association at the start of the project (see http://warrandyte.org.au/survey/). Her involvement was on a voluntary, pro bono basis.

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McLennan, B.J. Conditions for Effective Coproduction in Community-Led Disaster Risk Management. Voluntas 31, 316–332 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11266-018-9957-2

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Keywords

  • Coproduction
  • Community-based disaster risk management (CBDRM)
  • Community initiatives
  • Accountability
  • Leadership
  • Interactive governance