7.1. Approaches to Developing Disaster Service Alliances
Based on the analysis results, the main factors that Taiwanese NPOs used to develop the Wenchuan Earthquake Taiwan Service Alliance and 88 Flooding Service Alliance were determined.
(1) Participatory Commitment of NPOs
Taiwan NPOs were actively involved in disaster relief efforts for the Wenchuan Earthquake in China and Typhoon Morakot in southern Taiwan. Issue-based coalitions were observed to be distinct from well-developed, reliable teamwork in terms of durability, relationships and interaction among participants, and the views and attitudes of each entity [48
]. Disasters pose a severe challenge for local people and regional development; therefore, NPOs must fully commit to disaster relief.
(2) Alliance Initiators and Key Network Actors’ Involvement
The alliance initiator, with high capacity and past disaster relief experience, was crucial in the building of collaborative platforms. Both disaster relief alliances were organized by the Red Cross Society of Taiwan, who played a considerable role in coordination, communication, and fundraising. Because of its disaster relief experiences, the Red Cross Society of Taiwan functioned as a network-spanner in establishing the Wenchuan Earthquake Taiwan Service Alliance and 88 Flooding Service Alliance.
In the disaster relief process, the Red Cross Society of Taiwan provided leadership and coordinated the integrated services of NPOs. The services included temporary shelters, relief supplies, transportation pick-up services, demand assessments, condolence money to victims, face-to-face visits, and disaster recovery consultations [49
]. Moreover, the key network actors’ involvements expanded the collaborative networks. For example, the Red Cross Society of Taiwan and Tzu Chi Foundation have been actively involved in the disaster relief work nationwide. Both volunteer groups also provide emergency education, disaster relief, and assistance globally. Although not being the member of the disaster service alliances, the Tzu Chi Foundation worked independently on disaster relief and permanent housing for victims as well as delivered excellent volunteers and logistics after the Wenchuan Earthquake in China and Typhoon Morakot flooding in southern Taiwan.
(3) Individual NPOs’ Disaster Response Approaches
The results in Table 3
show main NPOs’ disaster response approaches. Joining a disaster relief alliance is a priority for NPOs reacting to disaster events. In the emergency collaborative management process, NPOs join groups to avoid risk or conflict. After disasters, joining an alliance for disaster relief services provides NPOs with more information about the status of affected areas, meaning they can better prepare to provide relief. Several cases have demonstrated that approaching affected areas without collaborating with other organizations can negatively affect emergency management [40
NPOs contribute services in community disaster recovery and relief [8
]. Affected areas require resources, and the most important thing for NPOs is to provide those areas and people in need with manpower and charitable assistance (e.g., mass feeding operations).
All the interviewees opined that the main role of NPOs was ancillary to that of governmental disaster relief. Emergency relief and recovery are primarily the responsibility of government, although the role of NPOs has grown because of the positive value shown by NPO participation in the disaster relief process.
Relief supply delivery is critical and requires resource logistics and distribution. Some NPOs dispatched supply parcels to deliver food and supplies to those affected. Most NPOs were ready for logistics work and delivered relief supplies based on their standard operating procedures for disaster resource management. Such supplies included daily commodities, water, and food.
Some NPOs with disaster relief experience preferred to first evaluate the disaster affected areas to gauge what they could do and how they could work together with the local government, local organizations, and other external groups to reduce waiting times in the affected areas. These NPOs felt that each disaster zone is different, and therefore each requires evaluation to determine the scale of the damage and how best to help.
NPOs with limited internal resources and financial capacities would initiate fundraising events for donations so that they could provide more resources for the affected areas and purchase more goods for those in need. Online fundraising is a common route through which most such NPOs raised money because of time and cost concerns as well as donor preferences. In some cases, NPOs used social media, such as Facebook, to deliver donation information. However, often members of those NPOs donated money and actively contributed irrespective of whether they directly received donation information from NPOs.
7.2. Resource Integration Strategies of NPOs
The results in Table 4
show main emergency resource integration strategies of NPOs. Information sharing and exchange can enhance mutual understanding and interaction among the actors in a disaster relief process, which can help manage resource inventory through mutual communication. Moreover, collaborative teamwork forms an integrated service network, which emphasizes linking each NPO’s resources to the areas and people most in need [50
]. A new form of relationship, such as an alliance, can enhance collaborative governance in the emergency management process and, in turn, increase collaboration among similar and proximal organizations [10
]. Furthermore, overlapping of services and goods provided by NPOs is reduced because they can now mutually consider the most efficient use of resources.
Establishing a strategic alliance for managing information sharing, exchange, and feedback can benefit cross-sector collaboration. Issues regarding resource competition and cooperation remain between national and local organizations. Based on the relief and recovery experience of the 921 Earthquake, there is an increased need for collaboration mechanisms to handle resource competition and cooperation problem between national and local organizations [51
Some NPOs prefer to have service projects with others in addition to their core offerings. Several service project teamwork types exist in different stages of the disaster process. During the placement and shelter stage, national NPOs, such as the Jieh-Huey Social Welfare and Charity Foundation, Child Welfare League Foundation, and Taiwan Fund for Children and Families, collaborated to move victims from temporary shelters into military barracks. In the post-disaster recovery stage, NPOs helped maintain psychological well-being as they rebuilt victims’ lives through a series of services. Such services typically included physical activity counseling, schooling, employment assistance, social welfare, and daily life support. Additionally, the Red Cross Society of Taiwan, Tzu Chi Foundation, and World Vision Taiwan provided permanent housing for victims, which was the first instance of NPOs providing permanent housing after a catastrophe in Taiwan.
7.3. Key Factors for a Successful Standing Disaster Service Alliance
Preexisting collaboration networks provide considerable benefits in disaster relief [52
]. The interview data in the present study indicated that the alliance initiator functions as the catalyst in the growth and development of an alliance. Importantly, developing disaster service alliances decreases the collaborative cost of disaster first responders and maximizes available capability and resources. Capitalizing on relief work experience from the Wenchuan Earthquake, the Red Cross Society of Taiwan established the 88 Flooding Service Alliance to coordinate the recovery efforts of more than 70 NPOs in the wake of Typhoon Morakot. The network proved successful. Notably, the findings of this study indicate that resource competition and lack of cooperation between nonlocal and local organizations are the main concerns for NPOs participating in disaster relief. Based on the experiences from the Wenchuan Earthquake and Typhoon Morakot, collaborative mechanisms are strongly recommended for NPOs participating in relief operations. Regarding the need for a standing disaster service alliance in the future, approximately 96% of respondents strongly agreed that it would be a good idea (Table 5
Most of the NPO managers suggested that NPOs’ engagement in the disaster alliances was crucial for disaster relief efforts in both catastrophic events. The two alliances proved effective mechanisms of collaboration in the disaster relief work. However, for a successful standing disaster service to have long-term development potential, several factors must be considered. The results in Table 6
show key factors for a successful standing disaster service alliance.
First, a self-designed rule consisting of NPOs based on mutual communication and interaction. NPOs that have broad overlaps in service offerings are more likely to form collaborations [53
]. In the present study, all the NPOs were disaster-services NPOs, which meant that their service offerings had high degrees of overlap. To enhance the use and growth of efficient resource and service networks, each NPO must assist in resource sharing and connection.
Disaster relief resources should be complementary and shareable, and the connection among participating NPOs should be based on mutual trust. Collaboration is a managerial mechanism, which contributes to building accountability and trust in a disaster service alliance [54
]. Moreover, trust among collaborators is crucial because trust decreases transaction costs and interaction uncertainty in the collaborative process [55
]. Because collaboration involves multiple stakeholders rather than a single public organization, it encourages public organizations to be accountable for accomplishing shared goals and to have a common vision. Common vision among collaborative participants can form strong agreement with less cost to communication. During the collaborative process, multiple participants must coordinate and integrate service delivery and resolve collective action problems.
Leadership is critical in a disaster service alliance. The Red Cross Society of Taiwan functioned as a network-spanner in establishing the Wenchuan Earthquake Taiwan Service Alliance and 88 Flooding Service Alliance and developing collaborative efforts for the two major catastrophes outlined in this study. The Red Cross played a considerable leadership role in coordinating, communicating, fundraising, and resource sharing. Additionally, the leaders of several nationally known NPOs in Taiwan, such as the Child Welfare League Foundation, the League of Welfare Organizations for the Disabled, Federation for the Welfare of the Elderly, and the Garden of Hope Foundation, managed internal resources and committed collective actions with others. Those NPOs acted as catalysts in local community development associations and also assisted long-established groups in capacity building and organizational transformation.
Financial sources influenced individual NPOs to join the standing disaster service alliance. Approximately 18 of the 62 NPO respondents (33.3%) suggested that the government and NPOs contribute equal funds to disaster relief. Only three large NPOs with strong capacity could self-finance, and most of the NPOs relied on donations and government support. Borrowing and lending complementary resources enhanced NPOs collaborative willingness because some resource types were lacking, which meant that NPOs would seek external resources and offer complementary resources in return.
Finally, competition exists among NPOs for media exposure and service receivers’ satisfaction, but collaboration is an efficient approach to ensure NPOs move beyond competition and sufficiently increase resource use [56
]. In some cases, NPOs have less information about the methods to deliver disaster services to those in need and consequently focus efforts in the wrong areas, resulting in inefficient outcomes. However, collaboration can help NPOs offer services strategically [57
In summary, the promise of collaboration among NPOs in the form of a disaster relief alliance promotes and reinforces ongoing disaster relief efforts by building capacity and promoting responsibility and strategic thinking, rather than competition. NPO engagement in disaster relief and recovery processes has numerous advantages, including experience in disaster rescue and assistance, decentralized regional networks, and feasible and flat organizations. However, some NPO managers in this study asserted that NPOs participating in disaster services encountered several challenges, including varying collaborative methods among NPOs, goal discrepancy, different organizational cultures, role dilemmas, and conflicts between national and local organizations.