What personal qualities and situational factors enable someone rise to leadership in disaster?

Creative Crisis Leadership
Los Altos, California
DOI: 10.18258/9882
Raised of $3,850 Goal
Funded on 10/21/17
Successfully Funded
  • $5,021
  • 130%
  • Funded
    on 10/21/17



Starting with Zachary Dearing, I will interview as many people who were at the shelter, or associated with it, as I can reach.

Interviews will seek to uncover

  • The individual’s experience of the storm and the shelter
  • What they were thinking, observing, and doing at the time
  • How they perceived Zachary and the group he led
  • The mindsets, personality, past experiences of crisis or leadership, strengths and skills, personal values and motivations that underlie their decisions and actions

Interviews will be conducted in person if at all possible. Because they are retrospective interviews, they must be conducted as soon as possible. Human memory is fickle!


There are three challenges to this research

  1. Gaining entry into the community of study can be difficult. This challenge has already been overcome by contact with Zachary, who is not only supportive of the project, but is actively providing introductions to some of the individuals who were at the shelter.
  2. Finding individuals who were at the shelter but who are not in touch with Zachary. This will be addressed by “snowballing” (asking participants to suggest other participants), posting flyers around town (for community members), and by reaching out to city officials and response agencies (for individuals who might have served in an official capacity).
  3. The subjective nature of the analysis requires that conclusions must be reviewed carefully by others. This is addressed by partnering with Zeno Franco, an experienced researcher in social psychology and heroic action.

Pre Analysis Plan

With participants’ permission, interviews will be recorded. Recordings will be transcribed for in-depth qualitative analysis. Relying on recordings and transcripts rather than notes ensures that results aren’t biased by researcher recollections.

The transcripts will be analyzed along three dimensions:

  1. Comparison of interviews, supplemented with official and media reports, to develop a timeline of actions and events
  2. Thematic analysis to identify key themes (e.g., “fear”) and how they are discussed by each participant
  3. Participant analysis to draw a profile of each participant’s mindset, personality, past experiences, and skills

Finally, correspondences between participant profiles and thematic patterns will be compared to identify commonalities and possible relationships.


This project has not yet shared any protocols.