Change Leaders’ Reflections of Hurricane Katrina: A Qualitative Review

By Heather Annulis, Janea McDonald, Gregory Higgins, Jarryl B. Ritchie, Brock Stout and Robert Thompson.

Published by Change Management: An International Journal

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

In August 2005, the costliest natural disaster to ever occur in the United States devastated the Gulf Coast resulting in losses estimated at $200 billion (Budget and Economic Outlook: Fiscal Years 2007–2017). While much of the data collected concerning the impact of Hurricane Katrina have been projections of recovery costs and critical reviews of response efforts, a lack of research exists examining the lived experiences of organizational leaders affected by the hurricane and the responses to expedite recovery. Hurricane Katrina affected organizations’ ability to operate, as businesses were not prepared for the effects of the event.
Interviews with senior leaders reveal how organizations recovered from the catastrophe. Leaders discuss pre-disaster, disruption, and recovery time periods and the effects of the disaster on leadership, staffing and talent management, teamwork, vision, and organizational culture. In addition, interviewees communicate the effects of the storm on business results and change capacity. Comparisons between pre-event crisis preparedness and post-event outcomes are explored. Reported experiences are compared to various change models as outlined by change management experts. This study examines increased change capacity in organizations as a result of major change.

Keywords: Disaster, Hurricane Katrina, Natural Disaster, Leadership, Change Leaders, Change Management, Change Capacity, Change Models

Change Management: An International Journal, Volume 12, Issue 2, pp.1-10. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 294.712KB).

Heather Annulis

Associate Professor, The University of Southern Mississippi, Long Beach, MS, USA

Heather Annulis, Ph.D., CPLP, is a tenured, associate professor at the University of Southern Mississippi and also serves as Director of the Master of Science in Workforce Development executive format program. She also serves as Director of the Training and Development Certificate Program. In 2003, NASA honored Dr. Annulis with the Public Service Group Achievement Award for her work on the National Workforce Development Education and Training Initiative team. In 2002 and 2006, the Southern Growth Policies Board recognized Annulis at the Southern Governor's Association Conference as an Innovator in Workforce Development. She was named one of Mississippi's 2006 Top 40 Under 40 by the Mississippi Business Journal. Most recently, she was named as a 2007 Distinguished Professor of e-Learning for the Southern Miss Gulf Coast. Heather's research interests include developing and implementing competency models, determining return of investment of performance improvement programs, and creating change readiness in organizations. She has presented at regional, national and international conferences on these subjects.

Janea McDonald

Human Capital Development Ph.D. Candidate, The University of Southern Mississippi, Long Beach, MS, USA

Janea Sims McDonald is enrolled in the Human Capital Development Ph.D. program at the University of Southern Mississippi, where she also received her Master’s Degree in Workforce Training and Development. She is the owner of Edge Consulting, LLC, a human capital development consulting company. Janea has over 15 years of human resource related experience. She is a certified HR professional (PHR) through the Society for Human Resource Management as well as a certified training professional through the Jack and Patti Phillips Workplace Learning and Performance Institute at The University of Southern Mississippi. In addition to owning her own business, Janea also teaches at William Carey University and serves as a graduate assistant in the human capital development department of Southern Miss.

Gregory Higgins

The University of Southern Mississippi, Long Beach, MS, USA

Greg Higgins is a human capital development professional with over 15 years of experience in consulting and program management. He has served numerous public and private sector clients in the U.S. and possesses expertise in strategic planning, financial management, leadership development, organizational performance, and economic analysis. He owns and operates GEH Consulting LLC, located in Dallas, Texas. In addition to his consulting work, Greg is also working on his Ph.D. in Human Capital Development at the University of Southern Mississippi.

Jarryl B. Ritchie

The University of Southern Mississippi, Long Beach, MS, USA

Jarryl Ritchie serves as the Gulf Coast Liaison for the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative Administrative Unit's Communication Team. He also serves as the Social Sciences Coordinator for the Northern Gulf Institute (NGI). He is charged with enhancing the social science research activities of the NGI. Jarryl has experience in the areas of data management, complex data systems analysis, data visualization, spatial technologies and their applications to the social sciences and management. Jarryl previously served as Health Data Librarian and Coordinator of the Monitor Laboratory at Mississippi State University's Social Science Research Center (SSRC) and worked with NASA, the Southern Association of Agriculture Experiment Station Director (SAAESD), Mississippi Department of Transportation, and the Foundation for the Mid-South. He has also collaborated on a variety of projects with the Mississippi Department of Human Services; the Office of Highway Safety; the Rural Health, Safety, and Security Institute; and others. Jarryl is also currently a doctoral student in the Human Capital Development Program, in the Economic and Workforce Development Department at University of Southern Mississippi. Jarryl has a Master’s and Bachelor’s Degree from Mississippi State University in History. He is a Research Fellow of the Social Science Research Center at Mississippi State University.

Brock Stout

The University of Southern Mississippi, Long Beach, MS, USA

Before becoming a PhD candidate in Human Capital Development, Brock worked for 16 years in human capital consulting and executive search. His research interests include organizational and regional development, entrepreneurial cognition, and microventure investment for economic development. Brock has lived half of his adult life in Asia and half in the U.S., and now consults for communities and startups, with plans to return to teaching after graduation.

Robert Thompson

The University of Southern Mississippi, Long Beach, MS, USA

Robert Thompson is currently enrolled in the University of Southern Mississippi’s Human Capital Development Ph.D. program. Robert is a C.H.A. (Certified Hotel Administrator) with the American Hotel & Lodging Association and T.M.P. (Tourism Marketing Professional) certified through the Southeast Tourism Society. Robert has over thirty years of experience in the hospitality industry in tourism markets ranging from Las Vegas, NV to Beverly Hills, CA. He serves on the Advisory Board – University of Arkansas’ Hospitality and Restaurant Management Program as well as the University of Southern Mississippi's Casino, Hospitality and Tourism Department. He is currently employed as Regional Marketing Director for Wyndham Worldwide, Inc. He is also an adjunct instructor with The University of Southern Mississippi in the Casino, Hospitality and Tourism Department.