Original Research

Disaster Risk Management: Disciplinary status and prospects for a unifying theory

Gerrit van der Waldt
Jàmbá: Journal of Disaster Risk Studies | Vol 5, No 2 | a76 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/jamba.v5i2.76 | © 2013 Gerrit van der Waldt | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 11 January 2013 | Published: 20 February 2013

About the author(s)

Gerrit van der Waldt, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa


The purpose of this paper is to explore the disciplinary status of Disaster Risk Management (DRM) as an emerging, applied, social science and to consider prospects for the establishment of a unifying theory or philosophical underpinning for the discipline. The exploration of the disciplinary status is facilitated by content analyses of knowledge products of the discipline, including study material, research reports, and completed postgraduate research to determine the typical categories or specialist areas or domains (curricula) of the discipline as well as a subsequent content analysis of Jàmbá articles. The research findings are then plotted on a focus area maturity model to facilitate opinion formulation regarding the disciplinary status of DRM. The findings reveal surprisingly high levels of maturity and set the parameters for a continuous discourse regarding the current disciplinary status of DRM in South Africa. The paper further proposes steps to establish a unifying theory as overarching paradigm for theory development and testing.


Disaster risk management; discipline; maturity; focus area maturity model; theory


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Jàmbá: Journal of Disaster Risk Studies  vol: 10  issue: 1  year: 2018  
doi: 10.4102/jamba.v10i1.451