Disaster Norms

Norms are so obvious they are invisible. Professional and bureaucratic norms can be powerful filters on policy advice, implementation and outcomes. In a stable and predictable world experience and habits are often adequate. In a dynamic and uncertain world innovation and flexibility become much more important.


In reducing the risks of disaster organizational interests and norms play important roles in stabilizing institutions.  Unfortunately, this becomes an obstacle when risks shift and other important contextual factors change.  We are interested in learning more about the establishment of norms and their consequences as well as how they can be transformed.

Selected Publications

  • Thomalla F, Lebel L. et al. (2017). Long-term recovery narratives following major disasters in Southeast Asia. Regional Environmental Change, 1-12. (Abstract)
  • Lebel L, & Lebel P. (2017). Policy narratives help maintain institutional traps in the governance of floods in Thailand. International Journal of Water Resources Development, 1-16. (Abstract)
  • Marks D, Lebel L. (2016) Disaster governance and the scalar politics of incomplete decentralization: Fragmented and contested responses to the 2011 floods in Central Thailand. Habitat International 52, 57-66. (Abstract)
  • Lebel L, Sinh BT, Garden  P, Seng S, Tuan LA, Truc DV. 2009. The promise of flood protection: Dykes and dams, drains and diversions  In Contested Waterscapes in the Mekong Region, ed. F Molle, T Foran, J Kakonen, pp. 283-306. London: Earthscan (Chapter)
  • Lebel L, Manuta B. J, and P. Garden (2011). Institutional traps and vulnerability to changes in climate and flood regimes in Thailand. Regional Environmental Change 11:45-58. (Abstract)
  • Lebel L, and Sinh B. (2009). Risk reduction or redistribution? Flood management in the Mekong region. Asian Journal of Environment and Disaster Management. 1:23-39. (Abstract)