Community Revival in the Wake of Disaster: Lessons in Local Entrepreneurship.

Author:Smith, Daniel J.
Position:Book review
 
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Community Revival in the Wake of Disaster: Lessons in Local Entrepreneurship.

By Virgil Henry Storr, Stefanie Haeffele-Balch, and Laura Grube

New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015.

Pp. xii, 193. $38 paperback.

Natural disasters are one of the few remaining major disruptions to modern economic life in economically free and prosperous nations. Although modern building technology and advanced warning mechanisms have certainly mitigated some of the destruction that occurs during such events, natural disasters across the United States still affect thousands of citizens each year. In addition to emotional trauma and even the loss of loved ones, these victims often face the disruption of their economic and personal lives, the loss of material possessions, and the disruption of the availability of regular consumer goods and services.

These factors, on their own, provide justification for carefully studying natural disasters to help determine what helps disaster-stricken communities recover more rapidly and comprehensively. Community Revival in the Wake of Disaster: Lessons in Local Entrepreneurship is an important book in this regard. The extensive fieldwork done by authors Virgil Henry Storr, Stefanie Haeffele-Balch, and Laura Grube following Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Sandy enables them to weave a rich narrative of how entrepreneurship, including social and ideological entrepreneurship, operates in a postdisaster environment, providing many lessons for understanding--and improving--future disaster-recovery efforts.

Examining, understanding, and highlighting the role of entrepreneurs through this research on disaster-stricken communities is perhaps the major contribution of this book and has importance beyond research on disaster recovery. The true range of the task--plus the power--of entrepreneurship in local communities is often overlooked or underappreciated by both policy makers and mainstream economists. Yet anyone from the thousands of small, close-knit communities across the United States can readily point out entrepreneurial leaders in their communities who play essential economic, social, educational, political, religious, and ideological roles on an everyday basis. Their roles, however, become more prominent and recognized, especially by those outside the community, in the wake of a natural disaster. Thus, studying the role of entrepreneurship in postdisaster contexts enables the authors to more readily examine and understand what...

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