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Using the Viable System Model (VSM) to structure information processing complexity in disaster response


  • Preece, Gary
  • Shaw, Duncan
  • Hayashi, Haruo


Earthquakes, hurricanes, flooding and terrorist attacks continue to threaten our society and, when the worst happens, lives depend on different agencies to manage the response. The literature shows that there is significant potential for operational research (OR) to aid disaster management and that, whilst some of this potential has been delivered, there is more that OR can contribute. In particular, OR can provide detailed support to analysing the complexity of information processing – an essential topic as failure could cause response agencies to act on low quality information or act too slowly – putting responders and victims at risk. However, there is a gap in methods for analysing information processing whilst delivering rapid response. This paper explores how OR can fill this gap through taking a Viable System Model (VSM) approach to analyse information processing. It contributes to the OR literature by showing how VSM can support the analysis of information processing as well as how the OR modelling technique can be further strengthened to facilitate the task.

Suggested Citation

  • Preece, Gary & Shaw, Duncan & Hayashi, Haruo, 2013. "Using the Viable System Model (VSM) to structure information processing complexity in disaster response," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 224(1), pages 209-218.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ejores:v:224:y:2013:i:1:p:209-218
    DOI: 10.1016/j.ejor.2012.06.032

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. (Noel) Bryson, Kweku-Muata & Millar, Harvey & Joseph, Anito & Mobolurin, Ayodele, 2002. "Using formal MS/OR modeling to support disaster recovery planning," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 141(3), pages 679-688, September.
    2. Sendhil Mullainathan & Marianne Bertrand, 2001. "Do People Mean What They Say? Implications for Subjective Survey Data," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(2), pages 67-72, May.
    3. Louise Comfort & Naim Kapucu, 2006. "Inter-organizational coordination in extreme events: The World Trade Center attacks, September 11, 2001," Natural Hazards: Journal of the International Society for the Prevention and Mitigation of Natural Hazards, Springer;International Society for the Prevention and Mitigation of Natural Hazards, vol. 39(2), pages 309-327, October.
    4. Altay, Nezih & Green III, Walter G., 2006. "OR/MS research in disaster operations management," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 175(1), pages 475-493, November.
    5. Tamura, Hiroyuki & Yamamoto, Kouji & Tomiyama, Shinji & Hatono, Itsuo, 2000. "Modeling and analysis of decision making problem for mitigating natural disaster risks," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 122(2), pages 461-468, April.
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    Cited by:

    1. Torabi, S.A. & Mansouri, S.A., 2015. "Integrated business continuity and disaster recovery planning: Towards organizational resilienceAuthor-Name: Sahebjamnia, N," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 242(1), pages 261-273.
    2. Wilson, Duncan T. & Hawe, Glenn I. & Coates, Graham & Crouch, Roger S., 2013. "A multi-objective combinatorial model of casualty processing in major incident response," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 230(3), pages 643-655.
    3. repec:spr:infosf:v:17:y:2015:i:4:d:10.1007_s10796-013-9475-0 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Hart, Diane & Paucar-Caceres, Alberto, 2017. "A utilisation focussed and viable systems approach for evaluating technology supported learning," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 259(2), pages 626-641.
    5. David Lowe & Louise Martingale & Mike Yearworth, 2016. "Guiding interventions in a multi-organisational context: combining the Viable System Model and Hierarchical Process Modelling for use as a Problem Structuring Method," Journal of the Operational Research Society, Palgrave Macmillan;The OR Society, vol. 67(12), pages 1481-1495, December.
    6. Espinosa, Angela & Reficco, Ezequiel & Martínez, Andrea & Guzmán, David, 2015. "A methodology for supporting strategy implementation based on the VSM: A case study in a Latin-American multi-national," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 240(1), pages 202-212.
    7. repec:spr:grdene:v:24:y:2015:i:3:d:10.1007_s10726-014-9398-2 is not listed on IDEAS


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