Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Experiences Using Virtual Systems During Critical Incidents at Universities: A Phenomenological Approach
by Plummer, Eric S., Ph.D., Capella University, 2018, 197; 10789541
Abstract (Summary)

This study examined the use of virtual emergency management systems within operational and tactical environments and explored the experiences of officials using these virtual systems regarding communication of information, coordination of resources, and strategic thinking throughout a critical incident at 4-year public institutions of higher education. Emergency management organizations are increasingly using virtual emergency management systems within their operations, but their effects on communication and incident management in operational and tactical environments during a critical incident is unclear. A gap in the literature has emerged in the understanding of how organizations comprehend, train, and utilize virtual emergency management systems and the possible integration of these systems with the National Incident Management System (NIMS) and the Incident Command System (ICS) standards. There was a need for this study to explore virtual emergency management systems within the operational and tactical environments prior to, during, and after a critical incident; and to answer the research question, “What are the experiences of university officials, who have utilized virtual emergency management systems, in terms of communication capability, resource coordination, and strategic thinking prior to, during, and after a critical incident involving 4-year public institutions of higher education?” This study used a transcendental phenomenological design to elicit the lived experiences of university officials who have utilized virtual emergency management systems throughout a critical incident at a 4-year public institution of higher education. The population of 10 university officials included a sample of six university emergency managers and four senior university officials who were familiar with the use of virtual systems prior to, during, and after a critical incident. The resulting data were then analyzed using open coding to identify themes and a codebook was developed to define terms associated with the themes and ascribe meaning to the data. The software NVivo11 was utilized to assist with the organization of the resulting themes. Numerous reviews of participant interview transcripts were conducted to ensure that the essences of participants’ experiences were appropriately displayed. Member checking was also conducted to ensure accuracy of the data. The findings indicated that the use of virtual emergency management systems did aid in the communication of information, the coordination and allocation of resources, and strategic thinking prior to, during, and after a critical incident at 4-year public institutions of higher education. The study also found that these systems aid in the development of trust, leadership, and team building at these institutions. The study also indicated that these systems were not being fully utilized at many of these institutions, thereby limiting the effectiveness of these systems.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Kill, Misti
Commitee: Larson, Dean, Martin, Daniel
School: Capella University
Department: School of Public Service Leadership
School Location: United States -- Minnesota
Source: DAI-A 79/08(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Management, Information Technology, Higher education
Keywords: Crisis, Crisis management, Emergency management, Higher education, Technology, Virtual tools
Publication Number: 10789541
ISBN: 9780355853230
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