FAQs

What is disaster management?

The term disaster management refers to all efforts aimed at prevention, preparation, response and restoration in the face of urgent threats to livelihood of a society and its members.

What is unique about SDMI’s mission?

SDMI is unique in its focus on the strategic leadership level, seeking to generate knowledge that helps business and government leaders respond to crises and disasters in an effective manner.

What does SDMI do?

SDMI produces knowledge and insights that will enhance the quality of crisis and disaster management around the world. This mission will be implemented by:

  • Bringing business principles and research to bear on the unanswered management challenges of large, complex disasters.
  • Applying, enhancing, and coordinating the unique capabilities and experience of Louisiana State University in the areas of hurricane research, disaster science, computation and technology, and counter-terrorism training.
  • Building partnerships between management scholars, emergency preparedness and response practitioners, and corporations.
  • Producing high quality, applied research that draws from multiple disciplines.
  • Disseminating learning through meaningful executive education programs and publications for business and government mangers.

What is the difference between a crisis and a disaster?

For research purposes, it is crucial to draw a sharp distinction between crises and disasters. We define a crisis in terms of a threat to core values or life-sustaining systems, which requires an urgent response under conditions of deep uncertainty. We define a disaster in terms of the outcome or consequences for a society: a disaster is a “crisis with a bad ending.” When a crisis is perceived to have really bad consequences, we speak of a catastrophe. These definitions clarify the importance of crisis management. Effective leadership in the response phase makes the difference between a mere threat and a disastrous outcome. SDMI will work to enhance leadership during crises and disasters.

The difference between a crisis, disaster and a catastrophe is, of course, a matter of perception. SDMI will concern itself with the immediate threat or occurrence of 1) unprecedented damage (both in financial terms and of lives lost) and 2) a long-term breakdown of life-sustaining functions in a social system. SDMI will thus not concern itself with “routine emergencies” such as traffic accidents.

How can I contribute?

SDMI stands ready to partner with corporations, foundations and public agencies on a wide variety of activities. Please contact us at sdmi@lsu.edu.