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Debra Kent
IU School of Public and Environmental Affairs

Charles Wise
IU School of Public and Environmental Affairs

Last modified: Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Study proposes new national framework to organize homeland security

June 27, 2006

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- The federal response after Hurricane Katrina suggests that a new organizational climate is needed, according to an article in the May issue of Public Administration Review. Professor Charles Wise of the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University believes agencies need to take a more adaptive management approach in these types of emergency situations.

Wise said a new organizational plan should include the integration of science and management and call for managers to change their approach as new information arrives. This framework differs from the more traditional form of organization such as the hierarchical model, where knowledge is treated as a scarce resource and decision-making is concentrated at the top.

Instead, the network model is utilized to incorporate the contributions and activities of the multiple homeland security organizations at various levels of government and in the private sector as a basis for organizing the homeland security system. The analysis builds on the network model and offers an adaptive management approach to implement it in a constantly changing homeland security context.

The adaptive management approach put forth by Wise is based on the notion that the knowledge available to a manager is always incomplete, making surprise an inevitable part of any situation. It begins by bringing together stakeholders who discuss the problem and map a plan including a monitoring system to analyze data and update the manager's understanding of their approach in practice. It also provides managers the ability to ensure that decisions are used as opportunities for organizational learning.

"What is required for homeland security is for professionals at various levels to work across boundaries, plan and negotiate future activities, and communicate during operations to resolve unanticipated problems," Wise concluded.

This essay is the first in Public Administration Review's academic/practitioner exchanges on seminal, current administrative issues. William Jenkins from the General Accounting Office, who specializes in Homeland Security departmental organization, wrote a response to Wise's essay entitled "Collaboration over Adaptation: The Case for Interoperable Communications in Homeland Security."

The IU School of Public and Environmental Affairs, located on eight campuses, is committed to teaching, research and service in areas such as public and nonprofit management, public policy, environmental science, criminal justice, arts administration and health administration. The school maintains continuing relationships with a large number of public agencies at all levels of government; public and private hospitals and health organizations; and nonprofit organizations and corporations in the private sector. SPEA has earned national distinction for innovative educational programs that combine administrative, social, economic, financial and environmental disciplines.

Public Administration Review has been the premier journal in the field of public administration research, theory and practice for more than 60 years. Published for the American Society for Public Administration, its articles identify and analyze current trends, provide a factual basis for decision making, stimulate discussion, and make the leading literature in the field available in an easily accessible format. It is published by Blackwell Publishing and can be found online at

Wise is available for media questions and interviews. Please call 928-226-9847 or email