Setting Boundaries for Research on Organizational Capacity to Evacuate

August 1991 (VOL. 9, NO. 2)

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A theoretical model of factors contributing to evacuation capacity is examined in relation to boundary setting criteria used to delimit populations. A population of disaster response organizations is delimited, and then the boundaries of four sub-populations are set according to four different delimiting criteria. The model is tested on the total population and the four sub-populations. Strikingly different results are obtained for the various populations. These disparate findings are the result of confounding the delimiting variable with the independent variables in the model. An expanded theoretical model which includes one of the delimiting variables provides a solution. Recommendations concerning explicit use of boundary setting criteria are made. In particular, it is suggested that a delimiting criterion should not be associated with the dependent variable under study, and that social service organizations should be included in research on evacuation and disaster management.