Comparing Networked and Linear Risk Assessments

From Theory to Evidence

Published in: International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction [Epub May 2018]. doi:10.1016/j.ijdrr.2018.04.031

Posted on RAND.org on July 10, 2018

by Aaron Clark-Ginsberg, Leili Abolhassani, Elahe Azam Rahmati

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Disaster risk has long been conceptualized as a complex and non-linear set of interactions. Instead of evaluating risks as isolated entities, 'networked' risk assessment methods are being developed to capture interactions between hazards and vulnerabilities. In this article, we address three challenges to networked risk assessments: the limited attention paid to the role of vulnerability in shaping risk networks, the unclear value of networked assessments compared to linear ones, and the potential conflict in linear and networked assessments at theoretical level. We do so by providing one of the first comparisons between linear and networked assessments in an empirical case, the risks faced by businesses operating in Iran's Razavi Khorasan Province. We find that risk rankings vary depending on whether risks are assessed using linear or networked techniques, and that vulnerabilities feature prominently in networked risk results. We argue that although networked and linear techniques rest on fundamentally different ontological conceptualizations of the world, approaches are complementary and reflect different dimensions of risk, and can be used in conjunction to provide a more comprehensive view of risk.

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