2012The purpose of this study is to identify the aspects of successful collaboration within an inter-organizational context. This essay is a case study of a tightly niched network of fire chiefs in central Oregon situated within multiple contiguous boundaries of federal and state agencies, county and municipal governments, industrial forests, non-profit interests, and small private landowners. The study consists of a content analysis of policies, statutes, strategic / operating plans, and mutual aid agreements. The content analysis is coupled with in-depth, open-ended interviews with four of the ten fire chiefs in the Central Oregon Fire Chief’s Association (COFCA) that compose urban and wildland task forces operating within the Deschutes National Forest. The results suggest that: 1) informal ties and the flexibility of mutual aid agreements at the local, state, and federal level are reinforced with a service oriented attitude and rapport among members; 2) the support of nonprofit public outreach guided by open communication with COFCA plays an important role in facilitating collaboration among stakeholders outside the fire management response network; and 3) formal policies, such as statutes and response plans that delineate operational roles, provide access to state and federal support in funding mitigation, suppression, and recovery efforts
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