SMITH BRAIN TRUST – Industrialization and Internet usage in flooded areas affect per-capita income and recovery efforts, according to new research from the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business.
The study examines flooding likelihoods in industrialized areas to directly influence residents’ abilities to earn a steady income due to the toll flooding takes on infrastructure, and whether those likelihoods should be considered in disaster recovery efforts.
A team of researchers including Maryland Smith assistant professor Niratcha “Grace” Tungtisanont gathered the data over six years from 75 Thai provinces. They analyzed industrialization levels and Internet usages before and after a flood incident.
By studying Internet usage during the floods, they found that an increase in per-capita Internet usage has a net positive impact on per-capita income. People online can better communicate and collaborate during emergencies. What’s more, knowledge that a flood is approaching can save lives and belongings.
“This has the potential to reduce financial losses and accelerate recovery,” the researchers wrote. “Using these results, we then identify provinces that had the best and worst recovery to further evaluate other factors that contribute to recovery performance.”
The best-worst province recovery results identified other factors that affect per-capita income during flood incidents. Floods are the world’s deadliest natural disasters, and their intensity and frequency continues to rise due to climate change. All of which adds value to the humanitarian aspects of this research.
The study also highlights factors that could impact a region’s resilience to flood events in future preparation. Those factors include: a regional population’s health condition being highly associated with the effectiveness of the recovery process; air quality in industrial areas and pesticides and chemicals in rural areas with health correlations, among others.
“Our research is driven by the prominence of floods as a natural disaster and the critical need to better understand how to improve the understudied humanitarian operations and crisis management (HOCM) recovery phase,” the researchers wrote.
They believe the HOCM field could benefit from applying a service operations strategy lens to policy. They cited the United Nations’ declaration of the 1990s as the International Decade of Natural Disaster Reduction and the globalization of the terror threat as key components that necessitate such a strategy. Their results also found that governments need stricter policies for highly industrialized areas and should advise organizations on capital allocation for emergency planning.
“Sharing information online, moreover, alleviated some of (the flooding’s) negative consequences, allowing people to better connect and collaborate,” the researchers wrote. “We further recommend stakeholders work to instill self-responsibility and self-preparedness in the general public, as cooperation is the key to an effective recovery. The government should promote a holistic view of co-production value and emphasize how individuals can collaborate to diminish the devastation from natural disasters. It is crucial to acknowledge that everyone can contribute, and that this is a part of the recovery process.”
Read more: Tungtisanont N, Roth AV,Ferrand YB, Mroz TA (working paper) “Disaster Operations Management Recovery: Insights from Flooding and the Influence of Industrialization and Internet Reach on Economic Recovery from Floods Events in Thailand.”
Niratcha "Grace" Tungtisanont is an assistant professor in the Department of Logistics, Business & Public Policy at the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business. She earned a PhD at Clemson University and a Master of Science in agricultural and resource economics and a Bachelor of Arts in economics and mathematics from the University of Arizona.
Research interests: Involved with the 2011 Thai flood recovery, where she gained firsthand experience in assisting flood victims. Her research goal is to identify what strategic factors should be prioritized prior to and during a flood event.
Selected accomplishments: Finalist for the Elwood S. Buffa Doctoral Dissertation Award at Decision Sciences Institute (DSI), 2018; panelist at 2018 Production and Operations Management (POMS) conference on Rapid, Impactful, Sustained and Efficient (RISE) Humanitarian Operations; panelist at 2018 and 2017 DSI workshops on advancing women leadership in supply chain and operations management; invited to present research at the 2017 Johnson OTIM symposium, INFORMS and POMS annual meetings; won a College of Business Graduate Research Assistant Excellence Award for 2016-2017.
About this series: Maryland Smith celebrates Women Leading Research during Women’s History Month. The initiative is organized in partnership with ADVANCE, an initiative to transform the University of Maryland by investing in a culture of inclusive excellence. Other Women's History Month activities include the eighth annual Women Leading Women forum on March 5, 2019.
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