Key elements of sectoral recovery and resilience after the Canterbury earthquakes: A system dynamics approach

Hlekiwe Kachali

University of Canterbury, PhD thesis 2013


The Canterbury region of New Zealand experienced four earthquakes greater than MW 6.0 between September 2010 and December 2011. This study employs system dynamics as well as hazard, recovery and organisational literature and brings together data collected via surveys, case studies and interviews with organisations affected by the earthquakes. This is to show how systemic interactions and interdependencies within and between industry and geographic sectors affect their recovery post-disaster. The industry sectors in the study are: construction for its role in the rebuild, information and communication technology which is a regional high-growth industry, trucking for logistics, critical infrastructure, fast moving consumer goods (e.g. supermarkets) and hospitality to track recovery through non-discretionary and discretionary spend respectively. Also in the study are three urban centres including the region’s largest Central Business District, which has been inaccessible since the earthquake of 22 February 2011 to the time of writing in February 2013. This work also highlights how earthquake effects propagated between sectors and how sectors collaborated to mitigate difficulties such as product demand instability. Other interacting factors are identified that influence the recovery trajectories of the different industry sectors. These are resource availability, insurance payments, aid from central government, and timely and quality recovery information. This work demonstrates that in recovering from disaster it is crucial for organisations to identify what interacting factors could affect their operations. Also of importance are efforts to reduce the organisation’s vulnerability and increase their resilience to future crises and in day-to-day operations. Lastly, the multi-disciplinary approach to understanding the recovery and resilience of organisations and industry sectors after disaster, leads to a better understanding of effects as well as more effective recovery policy.

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