Influence of culture on human-system interaction of emergency response to Xiaolin Village incident in Typhoon Morakot

Jiin Song Tsai, Chieh Chi Cheng, Cheryl S.F. Chi

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1 Citation (Scopus)


This study explores the influence of culture on the dynamic relation between an institutionalized organizational system and individuals who work under the system in a special context of emergency. In this context, a tragic event - the Xiaolin Village incident - which occurred during Typhoon Morakot in 2009, a mudslide buried the entire village killing 491 residents in all. This put Taiwans disaster management system to the test. It failed to demonstrate a convincing emergency response. This shock disclosed the misalignment between the disaster management system and de facto interpersonal interactions under the system and pointedly revealed a crucial operational problem in the disjuncture between the system and the government agents. In this paper, Hofstedes cultural dimensions (specifically, power distance and uncertainty avoidance) are employed to explore the influence of culture on the operation of the system. Thirty-two governmental officials were interviewed and their styles of handling conflict assessed using Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument. The cultural influence is appraised by detecting the shift of their styles under the emergency situation. Our findings expose the cultural cognitive constraints imposed on individuals by the system and help explain why the actual reactions to the Xiaolin Village incident differed greatly from the expected response.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)611-620
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of the Chinese Institute of Engineers, Transactions of the Chinese Institute of Engineers,Series A
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2014 Jul 1

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Engineering(all)


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