Abstract

A F5 tornado devastated Tuscaloosa, Alabama on April 27, 2011. The result was catastrophic damage including devastation of the city’s emergency response capabilities and major private relief agencies. The tornado represented a discontinuous change whereby the environment rapidly shifted from equilibrium to a complex and chaotic environment characteristic of Knightian uncertainty. As such it provides a unique opportunity to study the antecedents, processes and consequences of organizational emergence for three reasons. First, it provides a natural experiment in which the emergence of organizations can be observed at the individual and firm levels as opposed to the population level. Second, the response efforts in Tuscaloosa provide an opportunity to study the emergence of organizations while holding the environmental context constant. Third, the formation and ensuing outcome of individual organizations can be clearly delineated in this setting.

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