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Each year, natural disasters
kill around 90 000 people and impact around 160 million people worldwide.

Natural disasters involve earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, floods, wildfires,
heat waves, volcanic eruptions, landslides, and droughts. Natural disasters
mostly affect people’s lives immediately and cause physical, biological, and
social environment damages. Thus, they result in long-term impact on affected
people’s health and well being (World Health Organization (WHO), 2017). The
governance has an important role in the reduction of the disaster risk.

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However, countries significantly differ in making sufficient policies to reduce
disaster risks (The United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR),
2014). The aim of the proposed study is to examine
reasons of varying disaster agenda of countries in terms of national cultures.

Natural Disasters

            Natural disasters occur when natural
hazards are not efficiently responded by sufficient capacity. Disaster can be
called only if there is an affected community from a natural hazard. In other
words, a disaster arises when a hazard and vulnerability encounter. Vulnerability
is the predisposition to which a society or organization is unable to predict,
resist, cope with, and recover from the effects of disasters (WHO, 2002). In many disaster cases, people’s lives depend
on the level of vulnerability (Herrmann, 2007). Vulnerability is divided
into three categories: underlying causes, dynamic pressures, and unsafe
conditions. Underlying causes are poverty, limited access to power structures
and resources, ideologies, economic systems, age, sex, and disabilities.  Dynamic pressures are lack of local
institutions, education, training, appropriate skills, local investments, and more
on. Macro forces of dynamic pressures are population expansion, urbanization,
and environment degradation. Unsafe conditions are fragile physical environment
(dangerous locations, buildings, etc.), fragile local economy (low levels of
income and livelihoods at risk), and public actions (WHO, 2002).

            To decrease
vulnerability to disasters, management of natural disasters becomes crucial
within a local community or a country. Management of natural disasters has been
examined in four phases: mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery.

Mitigation phase refers to the activities that prevent,
eliminate, or reduce the damaging impacts of natural disasters. These
activities can be buying insurance, engineering and retrofitting facilities to
resist earthquakes, implementing community plans to reduce vulnerability to
hazards, and more on. Preparedness phase is defined as planning how to respond
to a disaster and increasing resources to response sufficiently. This phase
includes development of community training and public awareness, logistical
support and communications, basic supply needs, early warning, and monitoring.

Preparedness reduces damage when a disaster occurs. The other two phases refer
to the actions to be taken after the occurrence of a disaster. Response phase is
the first phase after a disaster occurs. It involves activities to save lives,
to provide emergency assistance to victims, and to reduce the probability of
further damage such as rescuing and sheltering victims. Finally, recovery phase
includes the actions that help to return the area and effected community to
normal or near-normal conditions such as repairing or rebuilding properties.

Thereby, management of natural disasters overall helps to create safer communities
by decreasing potential loss of life, reducing property damage, and increasing
long-lasting recovery (Herrmann, 2007; Martin,
2004; WHO, 2002).

Risk Index

In the disaster
management, pre-disaster phases, mitigation and preparedness, are risk
reduction phases that reduce vulnerability to disasters (WHO, 2002). In 2004, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has released a
report to help countries and stakeholders to coherently decrease vulnerability
to disasters. This report presents a pioneering Disaster Risk Index (DRI) that
is the first global level assessment of natural disaster risk. The DRI examines the relative vulnerability of countries to three
important natural hazards: earthquake, tropical cyclone, and flood. The DRI
classifies vulnerability indicators that contribute to disaster risk and
presents how the impacts of disasters can be either decreased or increased by
policy decisions. It is expected that the DRI will be useful to encourage development
policies and practices that contribute to reduction of disaster risk.

In the DRI, vulnerability is examined to show why, with a given level of physical exposure, people
are more or less at disaster risk. Because physical exposure to a hazard
is not sufficient to explain disaster risk. Countries with similar levels of
physical exposure to a same hazard have varying levels of disaster risk. Vulnerability
variables are classified as economic (e.g., lack of reserves, low asset
levels), social (e.g., the absence of social support mechanisms, weak social
organization), technical (e.g., poorly constructed and unsafe housing), and
environmental (e.g., the fragility of ecosystems). Variables that might reduce
vulnerability are also identified such as appropriate development and urban
planning, appropriate disaster preparedness, and early warning systems. To
calculate the relative vulnerability of a country to a given natural hazard, the
number of people killed divided by the number of people exposed. The included years
to the data were 1980-2000. The relative vulnerability to the hazard gets
higher when more people are killed to the degree the number exposed (UNDP, 2004).

Also, in the DRI, vulnerability variables are
analyzed for each of three hazard types to decide vulnerability indicators that
were most related with risk for each hazard type. For the earthquakes, rapid
urban growth has been found as the most related vulnerability indicator. In a
rapid urban growth situation, if earthquake
risk considerations were not implemented to the buildings and planning process,
vulnerability increased. For the tropical cyclone, high percentage of arable
land was the most related indicator. Additionally, for the flood, the most
related indicators were low gross domestic product per capita and low local
density of population. The analyses showed two important vulnerability
variables addition to the high physical exposure: unplanned urbanization and
rural livelihoods. Overall, it was stated that governance has a cross-cutting
influence on disaster vulnerability because governance
has power to make all the policy decisions regarding disaster management.

It was emphasized that the failures in all vulnerability indicators, such as
urban planning and building regulation, can be described as governance failures
(UNDP, 2004). Ideally, good governance should
reinforce all the policy alternatives to manage and decrease disaster risk.

Thus, successful decrease in disaster vulnerability depends on governance
innovation (Bündnis Entwicklung Hilft, 2017; UNISDR, 2014).

Governance in disaster risk

The term “governance” refers to the actors, structures, and
processes that lead to make collective binding decisions (Vab Asselt &
Renn, 2011). Governance includes decision-making processes to formulate natural disaster risk reduction policies and planning.

Also, it is a policy implementation system. To reduce disaster vulnerability, these
government actions can be functioning enforcement of building codes, land-use
planning, environmental risk and human vulnerability monitoring, and safety standards
(Bündnis Entwicklung Hilft, 2017; UNDP, 1997). For
instance, the earthquake disaster of Turkey in 1999 had a magnitude of 7.6 and
resulted in more than 17,000 deaths. This disaster showed that the lack of
enforcement of building codes was an important reason for increased physical
vulnerability (e.g., Bruneau, 2002; Özerdem,
2003). Also, in the DRI, Turkey was identified as
having high relative vulnerability to earthquakes (UNDP, 2004). Contrary, Cuba has been classified as having very low
relative vulnerability to tropical cyclones, despite having high physical
exposure to this hazard (UNDP, 2004). This situation is explained with Cuban
political and policy orientations and disaster preparedness work. Hence, policy decisions and implementations have a vital role
in disaster vulnerability reduction and preparedness (Aguirre, 2005; UNDP, 2004). Addition to governance role in decision
making in disaster policies, civil societies and private sectors that are an
important governance actors play an active role in forming the disaster risk
agenda (UNDP, 2004).

Decision Making in Disaster
Policy Across Countries

The topic of decision making is
shared by many domains, such as statistics, economics, political sciences,
health, and psychology, due to the nature of the topic (e.g., Thaler, 2015). Decision
making process mostly includes decisions that are made under uncertainty and
risk. A widely known theory, Prospect Theory, on decision making process of
individuals describes and predicts decision-making in situations of uncertainty
(Kahneman & Tversky, 1984; Tversky
& Kahnemann, 2002). One of the important decision domains is the safety. Decision-making
processes for disaster policies are also those that are made under uncertainty
to increase the safety of a society, and multiple actors in a country make
these collective binding decisions (Vab Asselt & Renn, 2011). Policy making
also referred to a top-level decision making in an organization (Jones, 2008).

As countries significantly differ
in making policies to reduce disaster risks, one of the important questions
might be that what are the fundamental issues that change from countries to
countries about making policy decisions under both uncertainty and huge risk. Which
dimensions can impact the choices of policies in the governance level?

There are
hypotheses about political choices in the individual level (e.g., Lodge & Taber 2000). For instance, Lucas and Molden (2011) explained
predictors of public policy attitudes as prevention and promotion needs.

Accordingly, political preferences of individuals depended either concern with
need for security (prevention) or concern with need for growth (promotion).

Prevention needs were associated with the choices of government intervention to
maintain personal and public safety. However, promotion needs were associated
with the choices of government intervention to seek opportunities for growth. Additionally,
prevention focus individuals preferred status qua while promotion focused
individuals preferred changes (e.g., Boldero & Higgins, 2011).

In the disaster policy making
process, one of the most emphasized issues has been the relation between
disaster risk reduction and development planning to improve disaster
preparedness. In other words, the development planning of countries should
include disaster management legislation. This should include reforms and
innovations in policy making and enforcement. This would also lead to encourage
governments to take account of disaster risk in their decision making. Moreover,
the agenda of countries should be long-term management of disaster risk within
sustainable development. Thus, disaster policy making includes innovation, seeking
opportunities to growth, and to build a culture of safety (Bündnis Entwicklung Hilft,
2017; UNDP,
2004; UNISDR, 2014).

Referring to the policy choices in the
individual level (Lucas & Molden, 2011), policies choices in the
governance level require promotion focus with the need for growth and

The next question addition to
the above questions might be that which dimensions might affect governance to
make these innovative policies and focus development? One of the explanations
might be cultural difference. Decision making processes of individuals have
been widely studied in the cross-cultural literature, and these studies have showed
that culture of individuals have a significant influence on their decision
making processes and value of their choices (e.g., Cohn, Schatz, Freeman, & Combs, 2016; Podrug, 2011). However,
little is known about the impacts of national culture on disaster policy choices
in the governance level.

            One of the
widely known dimensions of natural culture is Hofstede’s dimensions of national
culture: power distance, uncertainty avoidance, individualism versus
collectivism, masculinity versus feminity, long-term orientation, and
indulgence. These dimensions have been applied to many domains to understand
cultures values in those domains (e.g., Hofstede, 2017;
Hofstede, 1980). These cultural dimensions have been also studied in decision
making and natural disasters. For instance, Podrug (2011) examined the
influence of natural culture on decision making style between Croatia,
Slovenia, and Hungary to help international business to understand cultural
backgrounds. Moreover, Oishi and Komiya (2017)
stated that countries with higher levels of natural disaster risk were
more collectivistic than those with lower risk.

Hofstede’s long-term orientation
dimension of national culture were studied in the global warming policy agenda
and showed that long-term orientated nations had less carbon emissions for the
same level of economic output (Disli, Ng, &
Askari, 2016). Long-term orientation might be also related with disaster
policy choices in the governance level because this dimension focuses on change,
growth, and long-term goals. In a long-time-oriented culture, “the basic notion
about the world is that it is in flux, and preparing for the future is always
needed. In a short-time-oriented culture, the world is essentially as it was
created, so that the past provides a moral compass, and adhering to it is
morally good.” (Hofstede, 2017). Values
related with long-term orientation are thrift, perseverance and adapting to
changing circumstances, while values related with short-term orientation are
respect for tradition, national pride, and fulfilling social obligations. In
long-term oriented cultures, actions are motivated by long-term goals and
outcomes, rather than short-term outcomes. Short-term oriented cultures may not
give importance to the future impacts of their current decisions, while
long-term oriented cultures may prefer to sacrifice now for future profits.

Nations with long-term orientation have available funds for investment;
however, short-term orientated nations have little funds for investment. In
poor countries, economic growth is faster in long-term orientated cultures
compared to those with short-term orientated (Hofstede & Minkov, 2010). As disaster policy making includes
innovation and seeking opportunities to growth, disaster preparedness might be in
the agenda of long-term oriented nations more than those with short-term

Proposed Study

aim of the proposed study is to understand how differences in national culture
impact disaster agenda of nations and disaster vulnerability. Disaster policies
are made to increase preparedness and decrease vulnerability to disasters, and higher
levels of disaster preparedness are associated with strong policies (Bündnis Entwicklung Hilft, 2017; UNDP, 2004; UNISDR, 2014). Thus, countries’ levels of disasters
preparedness will be included as an indicator of disaster policies and agenda. Disaster vulnerability scores of countries will be included
as outcomes of disaster preparedness. The analysis will include earthquake
disasters as one of the most important natural disasters (UNDP, 2004). Also, long-term orientation dimension of national culture
will be included to examine the impact of national culture on disaster

It is predicted that disaster
preparedness will be in the agenda of long-term oriented countries more than
those with short-term orientation because disaster policy making includes
innovation, seeking opportunities to growth, and long-term agenda of reform. Countries with high long-term orientation will have higher preparedness and lower relative earthquake
vulnerability. Countries with short-term orientation will have lower preparedness and higher relative earthquake
vulnerability. In other words, countries with higher levels of preparedness will be more
long-term orientated than those with lower levels of preparedness. It is also expected that long-term orientation scores
will lead to earthquake vulnerability through hazard preparedness.



The data will include three variables for each country:
long-term orientation scores, preparedness scores, and relative vulnerability
scores for earthquakes. The data for the proposed study will be taken
from three databases. Long-term orientation scores will be taken from Hofstede’s dimensions of national culture database (2015). Preparedness
scores will be taken from World Health
Organization (2017), and relative vulnerability scores for the
earthquakes will be taken from the DRI of United Nations Development Programme (2004).

dimensions of national culture database. Hofstede (1991) presented this dimension as a
fifth dimension of differences between national societies. Long-term
orientation scores refers to the development in a society of pragmatic virtues
oriented to future rewards, in particular perseverance, thrift, and adapting to
changing circumstances. On the other hand, short-term orientation refers to the
development in a society of virtues related to the past and the present, such
as national pride, respect for tradition, and fulfilling social obligations.

The position of societies relative to each other is described as a long-term
orientation index score. These values are plotted on a scale from 0 to 100. A
higher score indicates more long-term orientation, and the lower score
indicates more short-term orientation (see Hofstede & Minkov, 2010, for the dimension
data analyses). The database includes 96 countries (Hofstede, 2015).

Risk Index of United Nations Development Programme. This index measures
the relative vulnerability of countries to earthquakes and examines the factors
that contribute to disaster risk. The index is based on calibrated data from
1980 to 2000. The relative vulnerability of a country to earthquake was
calculated by dividing the number of people killed by the number exposed
(killed per million exposed). A higher score shows more relative vulnerability
to earthquakes. This vulnerability index includes 50 countries (see UNDP, 2004,
statistical work
undertaken in the development of the DRI).

Scores. According to International Health Regulations (2005) monitoring
framework, preparedness score of a country is one of the core capacities indicating
health system resources of that country (WHO,
2017). Preparedness scores of
countries will be taken from WHO (2017). Preparedness includes the development
of emergency response plans for hazards, the identification of available
resources, mapping of potential hazard sites, the development of appropriate
stocks of resources, and more on. Hazards included in this data set are not
only natural hazards but also biological,
chemical, radiological, and nuclear hazards (see WHO, 2011, for detailed rationale,
method, and data analysis). The dataset includes scores for seven years (2010-2016). Preparedness scores
for 2010 will be included to the current analysis to measure a close year to the
higher score indicates more preparedness to disasters. The database includes 116
countries for 2010.


Countries presented in all databases will be
selected, and others will be extracted from the present study data. Thus, there
will be no missing data during the analysis.

A mediation analysis will be conducted. Long-term orientation scores will be included the
analysis as a predictor. Earthquake
vulnerability scores of countries will be included as an outcome. Countries’
hazard preparedness scores will be included the analysis as an intervening



It is predicted that long-term orientation
scores will lead to earthquake vulnerability through hazard preparedness. To
test whether countries’
hazard preparedness scores mediate the effect of
long-term orientation scores on earthquake vulnerability, a mediation analysis
will be conducted using a SPSS macro that was developed by Preacher and Hayes
(2004). 5000 bootstrapping will be used to run mediation analysis. A correlation analysis will be conducted to examine
relations of variables via SPSS as well.  

It is expected that the long-term orientation
and earthquake vulnerability will be negatively correlated. The long-term
orientation and hazard preparedness will be positively correlated. Earthquake
vulnerability will be negatively correlated with hazard preparedness.  The mediation effect of hazard
preparedness on the relation of the long-term orientation and earthquake
vulnerability will be significant. Also, it is predicted that long-term
orientation will remain as a significant predictor of earthquake vulnerability
when hazard preparedness is controlled. Thus, countries with higher hazard
preparedness scores will be associated with lower levels of the relative
vulnerability. Countries with high long-term orientation scores will be related
with lower levels of the relative vulnerability and higher levels of hazard


Countries’ failures in
vulnerability to disasters have been attributed to the lack
of sufficient policy decisions regarding disaster management (e.g.,
UNISDR, 2014). As countries significantly differ in making policies to reduce
disaster risks, the aim of the proposed study is to understand reasons of varying disaster agenda of nations. It is argued
that national cultures might play a role explaining these differences in
the choices of policies. As disaster policy making requires innovation and growth, it
is expected that disaster preparedness will be in the agenda of long-term
oriented nations more than those with short-term orientation. Hence, the
outcome of the higher preparedness will be the lower vulnerability to the

As high vulnerability to
disasters has been explained with the lack of disaster policies, there has been
international acts to increase these policy decisions and thereby preparedness
to the disasters (e.g., UNISDR, 2014). Understanding
how differences in national culture impact disaster agenda might lead to more
efficient interventions and developmental planning specific to the each
country. These interventions might also aim to build safety culture specific to
the each country.

If the
hypotheses are supported by findings, this research might be useful in other
areas as well. For instance, disaster preparedness and disaster agenda can be
used as indicators of other hazards such as technological hazards and cyber
attacks. Countries
with the same level of economic growth and exposure to cyber attacks might have
varying levels of vulnerability.

Short-term orientated nations might tend to not make
sufficient policies on cyber security compared to long-term orientated nations.

Researchers might need to develop different strategies for each country to
convince stakeholders about the importance of the issue and to have available
funs for cyber security. 

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