Time, Knowledge, And Risk: Decision Making In The Aftermath Of Storm Disasters

November 2015 (VOL. 33, NO. 3)

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Responses to disasters and crises are often characterized by decisions made in situations of urgency and uncertainty. Decisions are often made under time constraints and without full knowledge of the consequences of the available options. This paper investigates the role of time and knowledge in the practical governance of disasters and crises. It empirically examines the sense-making and risk governance practices developed in response to the consequences of two detrimental storms that affected a forest area in Sweden. The data were gathered in an interview study of forest advisors at a public agency, forest associations, and private companies. The analysis indicates that the actors’ adjustments to their perception of available time (time regime) and the accessibility of knowledge (desktop knowledge) explain how certain risk governing practices evolved. Thus, of greatest significance is not what is known and unknown but who knows what and when.