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Evaluating Uses and Adoption of Media Innovations in Disaster Warnings

Title: Evaluating Uses and Adoption of Media Innovations in Disaster Warnings: A Case Study of Sindh-Pakistan.
Name(s): Shaikh, Mariam, author
McDowell, Stephen D., 1958-, professor directing dissertation
Brower, Ralph S., university representative
Rayburn, Jay D., committee member
Lustria, Mia Liza A., committee member
Florida State University, degree granting institution
College of Communication and Information, degree granting college
School of Communication, degree granting department
Type of Resource: text
Genre: Text
Issuance: monographic
Date Issued: 2016
Publisher: Florida State University
Place of Publication: Tallahassee, Florida
Physical Form: computer
online resource
Extent: 1 online resource (211 pages)
Language(s): English
Abstract/Description: The advancement of technological innovations and global reforms for improving early warning systems as a key risk-reduction principle is transforming modern practices in risk communication. However, in the global context, this transformation varies greatly among regions, especially in less-resourced areas. The result is uneven preparedness that leads to unnecessary and major losses of life and infrastructure and property damage. How well governments in less-resourced regions are adequately prepared to achieve this technological and global homogenization is the vital question. Communication research on media innovations lacks examination of how well integrated disaster warning services are performing as critical components of public service. This dissertation takes these observations as its starting point and seeks to elaborate differential elements of governance that may influence capabilities of public agencies’ function in the communication of disaster warnings. One goal of this research is to fill the gap in disaster and communication scholarship and study the characteristic elements and uses of innovation by examining the accompanying challenges in less developed regions. Applying the concepts of governance and public service in studying disaster warning undermines the traditional bias that the challenges inherent in risk and crisis communication are primarily organizational. The other more important purpose is to offer specific insights in three principal areas of innovations in the communication of warnings by: (a) understanding the dynamics of how media innovations occur in disaster communication practices; (b) elaborating the factors that promote or inhibit the development of such innovations; and (c) generating theoretical and practical propositions for improvements in public service delivery of disaster warnings through innovations. In the process of achieving these goals, a more specific understanding of the warning communication process among the various organizational units of public service systems in disaster management of the region studied was achieved. In this study, theoretical and methodological decisions were made on the basis of the central proposition guiding this evaluation: the communication of disaster warnings is a public service. Although global governance actors guide risk-reduction policy initiatives, they are enacted at the national and sub-national levels. The study explores the dissemination system of disaster warning in Pakistan, and Sindh. Its southern province is examined as a sub-national level and as a less-resourced, disaster-prone region. The insights from this case study can be applied to guide evaluative research further for similar regions where limited resources and capabilities to innovate warning systems exacerbate the situation and result in a substantial increase in losses. This study used a sequential mixed method evaluative research design. Initial findings were analyzed and integrated for holistic representation of findings. The study draws conclusions from two key aspects in the uses and adoption of media innovation development in public service. The first is the variant approaches to innovations across each level of government. It found that, at the policy level, and considering the limited capabilities vis-à-vis the scope of transformation, the approach to innovation development is transitional. In view of the extent of discretionary authority and available support at the managerial level, the approach to adopting new technology is driven by each disaster experience. Depending on the expertise and resources available within the context of local agencies and communities, a hybrid form of innovation development is approached at the operational level that utilizes technology in the communication of warnings. Secondly, the aspect of a more balanced and unified policy design and the implementation of innovations. The study found that a risk-based and audience segmented approach in nationally defined policy imperative guides the transition from linear to a non-linear, or non-hierarchical, communication system; from traditional to networked communication modes; and from traditional (one-way) to advanced (two-way/interactive) communication tools in the communication of warnings. The study found that the policy and planning measures as well as managerial decision-making for innovation is geared only towards those risks that occur frequently in the region, such as floods and cyclones. For other risks, the managerial decision-makers develop new protocols and strategies to utilize new media and technology tools only when the risk is manifested and damages occur, such as the heat hazard in summer 2015. Importantly, the study observed that for emergency managers at the local district level, besides floods, and cyclones, the emerging risks also include civil conflicts, terrorist attacks, and other extreme natural hazards such as droughts, heat hazards, and flash floods for which no planning or new practices have been developed by the provincial authorities. The study observed three major factors that affect both the approaches to develop an innovation and the kind of change it brings to the system. These are: cost, climate change, and contextual factors. The important implications of these findings suggest that while various cost variables and climate changes affect policy, plans, and subsequent practices adversely, the constantly advancing media and technological context of the region offers great opportunities to adopt potential media innovations for effective service delivery of disaster warnings. The study also observed that role of both global and sub-national level actors in governance is significant in characterizing policy design and implementing specific plans for innovation in a warning system. While global actors have a key role in defining specific policy design and initiatives, regional actors at the sub-national level play a fundamental role in implementing plans. Given the meta-inferences, this dissertation proposes a scarcity-abundance framework as an extension of innovation scholarship in less-resourced regions for more even adoption of media innovation. It contends that context variables that characterize “abundance” can address the challenge of scarcity. The expanding outreach of media and telecommunication based industries in the region offer possibilities for government sector to counter the limitations towards successful innovations. For practical implications, policy adaptation to constantly changing media, climate-change, and technology for the viable adoption of media innovation can bridge the current gaps in innovation adoption.
Identifier: FSU_2016SU_SHAIKH_fsu_0071E_13284 (IID)
Submitted Note: A Dissertation submitted to the School of Communication in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Degree Awarded: Summer Semester 2016.
Date of Defense: May 10, 2016.
Keywords: Disasters, disaster warnings, evaluative research, innovation in governance, media innovation, public service innovation
Bibliography Note: Includes bibliographical references.
Advisory Committee: Stephen D. McDowell, Professor Directing Dissertation; Ralph Brower, University Representative; Jay Rayburn, Committee Member; Mia Liza A. Lustria, Committee Member.
Subject(s): Communication
Mass media
Public administration
Persistent Link to This Record:
Owner Institution: FSU

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Shaikh, M. (2016). Evaluating Uses and Adoption of Media Innovations in Disaster Warnings: A Case Study of Sindh-Pakistan. Retrieved from