Public organization adaptation to extreme events: Mediating role of risk perception

Fengxiu Zhang, Eric Welch, Qing Miao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

68 Scopus citations


The study responds to the growing call for a more systematic approach to research on organizational responses to extreme events. It develops and tests an integrated framework based on the organizational adaptation and learning theory to shed light on how public organizations manage exposure and vulnerability to extreme events.The analysis uses data from a 2016 national survey of top managers in the largest fixed-route public transit agencies in the United States and from other institutional sources to test hypotheses that link exposure to extreme events, impact, risk perception, and adaptive responses. We apply a structural model to disentangle the direct effect of exposure on adaptation as well as its indirect effects through impact and risk perception. Findings underscore the critical role that organizational risk perception has in converting environmental stimuli to organizational adaptive responses and point to a perception-mediated learning model of adaptation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)371-387
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Public Administration Research and Theory
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 15 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Public Administration
  • Marketing


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