Original Research

Tracking the evolution of the disaster management cycle: A general system theory approach

Christo Coetzee, Dewald van Niekerk
Jàmbá: Journal of Disaster Risk Studies | Vol 4, No 1 | a54 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/jamba.v4i1.54 | © 2012 Christo Coetzee, Dewald van Niekerk | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 06 June 2012 | Published: 06 December 2012

About the author(s)

Christo Coetzee, African Centre for Disaster Studies (ACDS), North-West University, South Africa
Dewald van Niekerk, African Centre for Disaster Studies (ACDS), North-West University, South Africa


Officials and scholars have used the disaster management cycle for the past 30 years to explain and manage impacts. Although very little understanding and agreement exist in terms of where the concept originated it is the purpose of this article to address the origins of the disaster management cycle. To achieve this, general system theory concepts of isomorphisms, equifinality, open systems and feedback arrangements were applied to linear disaster phase research (which emerged in the 1920s) and disaster management cycles. This was done in order to determine whether they are related concepts with procedures such as emergency, relief, recovery and rehabilitation.


disaster management cycle; disaster risk management; general system theory; linear disaster phases; normative cycles


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