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The Importance of Organizational Culture and Management


By Allison G.S. Knox
Contributor, EDM Digest

Perhaps one of the most discussed managerial issues for any organization is the concept of organizational theory and culture.  Most businessmen have a good understanding of the idea that an organization is comprised of the people that work for their company and the culture the people create. Certainly a company's clients have a sense of their organizational culture as it can have a direct impact as to whether or not they want to use their services.  Organizational culture certainly has its place in emergency management as it can help an agency to grow and flourish, or have hindrances in its growth.

Single Point of Failure

The Single Point of Failure refers to a manager who ultimately has to have every decision filter back through them before their team can move forward with a project. The issue with this is they create a system where they are a "single point of failure" making it difficult for their team to function without their presence. While this is a particularly difficult issue for a team, it also creates a culture where individuals don't trust their best decisions.  It can also create an apathetic culture where employees do not feel motivated to work without their manager.  In an emergency environment this can be particularly detrimental.  Emergency workers need to have a sense of how to proceed with managing a small or large scale emergency - while following their chain of command and the Incident Command System.

Culture and Versatility

Organizational culture needs to foster versatility in emergency management.  While there are potential managerial issues that can break down the decision-making process of employees, organizational culture can work in the opposite respect to promote and foster versatility in an emergency agency.  Emergency management tends to follow certain guidelines for handling large scale and small scale emergencies, but within those guidelines managers can foster the need for employees to be versatile in their thinking for managing the situation.  Giving employees the confidence to move forward with their decisions in a positive fashion can help an emergency agency promote versatility in their hierarchical structure.

Good Managerial Practices

Ultimately, good management practices come back to a couple of important pieces.  Great management stems from the notion that there are certain things about an organizational culture that can be toxic to emergency management, and other things that simply foster great teamwork. Each team, however, is going to behave differently. Thus, it is important for managers to stay abreast of who their team is comprised of, how their team functions together culturally, and work to maintain a positive culture that helps them to manage emergencies effectively.

Allison G. S. Knox Passionate about the issues affecting ambulances and disaster management, Allison focuses on Emergency Management and Emergency Medical Services policy. Allison has taught at the undergraduate level since 2010. Prior to teaching, she worked in a level-one trauma center emergency department and for a member of Congress in Washington, D.C. She holds four master’s degrees in Emergency Management, National Security Studies, International Relations, and History; a Graduate Certificate in Homeland Security; and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. Allison is an Emergency Medical Technician, Lifeguard, and Lifeguard Instructor, and is trained in Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue. She serves on the Board of Trustees for Pi Gamma Mu International Honor Society as Chancellor of the Southeast Region, Vice Chair of the Tactical Emergency Medical Support Committee with the International Public Safety Association, and serves as the Advocacy Coordinator of Virginia with the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians. She is also a member of several committees including the Editorial Committee with APCO, the Rescue Task Force Committee with the International Public Safety Association, and the Advocacy Committee with the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians. She also serves as Chair of the Leadership Development Program for the 2020 Pi Gamma Mu Triennial Convention. Allison has published several book reviews and continues to write about issues affecting ambulances, emergency management, and homeland security.