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SEI working paper

Using learning to harness social and organizational culture for disaster risk reduction

This paper, an output of the project EDUCEN: European Disasters in Urban Centres, provides an overview of learning in the context of disaster risk reduction.

Maria Osbeck, Frank Thomalla, Michael Boyland, Karina Barquet / Published on 20 October 2016

Barquet, K., F. Thomalla, M. Boyland and M. Osbeck (2016). Using learning to harness social and organizational culture for disaster risk reduction. SEI Working Paper No. 2016-10.

The paper explores when and how learning takes place within and across organizations and people, introduces prominent concepts, approaches and methods for learning, and links existing literature on learning in DRR with EDUCEN’s work with learning across cultures.

Key factors that may foster learning within DRR include highly engaged and committed organizers; a technically skilled, competent and engaging mediator or facilitator; a high level of commitment of the leaders; establishment and maintenance of the legitimacy and openness of the project; and continuous feedback.

Key barriers to learning that are relevant for EDUCEN include unclear status and aims of an initiative; failure to include all stakeholders; lack of clarity about the involvement and role of stakeholders (e.g. form and timing); lack of stakeholders’ belief that their inputs would make a difference; and differences in the scale of the project and the scale of interest of the stakeholders.

Many of the principles of learning derived from the literature are well aligned with the hypotheses of the EDUCEN project itself: that there is a need to better integrate different communities of science, practice and policy, and between different sectors, and efforts need to focus more strongly on the needs and priorities of people at risk. Moreover, lessons from on-the-ground learning need to better inform decision-making by translating (tacit) knowledge into policy and practice.

Download the paper (PDF, 2.27MB)


About SEI Working Papers
The SEI working paper series aims to expand and accelerate the availability of our research, stimulate discussion, and elicit feedback. SEI working papers are work in progress and typically contain preliminary research, analysis, findings, and recommendations.
Many SEI working papers are drafts that will be subsequently revised for a refereed journal or book. Other papers share timely and innovative knowledge that we consider valuable and policy-relevant, but which may not be intended for later publication.

SEI authors

Profile picture of Frank Thomalla
Frank Thomalla

SEI Affiliated Researcher

SEI Asia

Karina Barquet
Karina Barquet

Team Leader: Water, Coasts and Ocean; Senior Research Fellow

SEI Headquarters

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