Making Connections: Performance Regimes and Extreme Events


  • Ann O'M. Bowman holds the Hazel Davis and Robert Kennedy Chair in the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University. Her research interests revolve around intergovernmental relations, especially the relationships of states to their localities and of states to each other. E-mail:

  • Bryan M. Parsons is assistant professor of political science in the College of Business and Global Affairs at the University of Tennessee at Martin. He specializes in American politics, and his research focuses on political networks, public opinion, and voting behavior. E-mail:


Local officials in the emergency management field have reached out and increased their connections with other agencies and organizations during the past several years. Collaborative networks have been created in an effort to address the complexities and uncertainties surrounding extreme events. But has this collaboration really taken root? In this article, the authors find that although a collaborative ethos has penetrated local emergency management, it is neither deep nor uniform. Data from a survey of emergency managers in North Carolina counties show that maintaining a functional network—a performance regime in which participants develop consistent management practices and rely on each other for the generation of new ideas—is a difficult task. The explanation for the variation found across the counties largely involves capacity and vulnerability.