Date of Conferral





Public Policy and Administration


Kristie Roberts


Failure to receive critical and timely information from emergency management professionals (EMPs) may lead to the loss of life during disasters and emergencies. Recent research and government reports have indicated that there may be communication failures between EMPs and minority community members, though little is known about how minority communities perceive EMP communication efforts. The central research questions and purpose of this study were designed to explore the experiences of minority community members in receiving and interpreting disaster-related communications from EMPs. Data for this phenomenological study were acquired through-in-depth interviews with 13 African Americans (7 males and 6 females) located in a southern state. The data were transcribed; inductively coded; and analyzed for trends, themes, and patterns. This study yielded 2 key findings. First, these 13 participants perceived a lack of dialogue and interaction from local EMPs; however, they were more open to communication through their church rather than through other official communication venues. Second, Kim's theory of interethnic communication offers relevant explanatory value for these participants because it discusses the attributes of the single communicator (emergency manager) engaging with another individual (citizen). These findings offer opportunities for positive social change and enhanced communication between EMPs and their minority constituents. Effective communication methods that EMPs might implement include creating strategic alliances with community cultural centers such as churches, civic organizations, and other places at which members of minority communities interact.