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Organizing Resilience: The Reconfiguration of Emergency Response in Germany

Gefördert durch:

Gerda Henkel Stiftung


Stefan Kaufmann

Nils Ellebrecht



2013 - 2015


With the discussion of new threats, resilience has become an emerging security paradigm and a governmental strategy. Against this background, the proposed research project asks, how organized emergency response is reconfigured in Germany, particularly in metropolises, and on the organizational level. The central features of this transformation become manifest in mass casualty incident plans, which have been (re-)formulated in most German cities. In this context, emergency response organizations are requested to cooperate and interconnect among and between each other and third organizations, such as public health departments, hospitals, regulatory authorities, and the police. The proposed research project will use mass casualty incident plans as the shared point of reference to interview representatives of the aforementioned organizations in three metropolises. Drawing on these empirical examples, the study will assess transformations on the (inter-)organizational level. Particular attention shall be paid to inter-organizational conflicts and their origins. On the intra-organizational level, the project refers to the case of the German Rettungsassistent (≈ paramedics). Thus, it addresses the renegotiation of roles in the field of emergency response on the on side, and the realignment of organizational structures on the other. Both empirical examples will be framed by a sociological characterization and classification of emergency response organizations. A second sociological frame shall be provided on the basis of Niklas Luhmann’s theory of functional differentiation and Michel Foucault’s concept of discursive problematization. Thereby, the research project will connect the existing corpus of historical literature on emergency response organizations and the research findings with sociological theory.