Combining Quantitative and Qualitative Aspects of Indicators for Assessing Community Resilience

Submitted by Richard Taylor | published 10th Jun 2019 | last updated 13th Oct 2020
Figure 1 Diagram of the evidence-driven development of indicators

Figure 1 Diagram of the evidence-driven development of indicators within emBRACE. A solid lined, single pointed arrow represents a simple flow of data, information or thought; a double-ended arrow an iterative flow; and a dotted arrow a process of checking back against an earlier point in the process (after Lucas 2011: Fig.1 and Kemp-Benedict et al. 2010: Fig.1).

Summary

This chapter reflects on the potential to use indicators for assessing the resilience of communities. It starts with an introduction to indicators, the various understandings of this term and typical constraints for applying indicators within the context of complex, multi-dimensional phenomena such as resilience. It then presents current indicator-based approaches for assessing community resilience and explains the emBRACE approach to identify, develop and systematise indicators. 

The emBRACE analytical framework serves as a structure to select key-indicators of community resilience. Since community resilience includes both aspects that are more readily measurable using numerical metrics (i.e. quantitative analysis) but also aspects that require more subjective understanding (i.e. qualitative data), we require indicators that reflect both the quantitative and the qualitative. Thus, we particularly address the need to consider and integrate qualitative information into any indicator set of community resilience.

This working paper* shows how indicators for assessing the resilience of communities can be identified, developed and synthesised. 

*Donwload the full text from the right-hand column.

Approach

We derived the indicators from our assessment of the specific local-level systems that we explored within the case studies. This grounding of our indicators empirically and generation of indicators of community resilience ‘from the bottom up’ – but within the emBRACE framework – allows us to meaningfully understand the relation of our local-level indicators to community-level resilience.

Concretely, we have created an indicator spreadsheet template that was distributed to the case study researchers, in order to collect the indicators and the associated information related to the operationalisation of indicators. The template requested, in particular, information about the allocation of the indicator within the emBRACE framework, the means of parameterisation, the relationship of the indicator to resilience, the methods of data collection, the scale of application and the context- and hazard-specificity of the indicator. (see Figure 1)

Starting bottom left of fig.1, the emBRACE framework fed into our analysis, and we derived the spreadsheet based on our analysis of it, and also our iterative testing of the spreadsheet with emBRACE case-study researchers. The indicator lists are then tested back conceptually at a high-level against the framework.

Because our indicators and our framework are linked systemically and in a structured manner, we were able to cluster and systematise our indicators into what can meaningfully be described as emBRACE indicators of community resilience. The aim of the systematisation is to derive a substantial and more manageable list of key-indicators out of all indicators applied within the emBRACE case studies, which can be applied across different scales and contexts and that have a clear relation to community resilience.

Findings

One aspect of the systematisation was to locate the indicators within the emBRACE framework. Table 1 shows that the majority of indicators have been allocated by the case study researchers to the resources and capacities domain of the emBRACE framework, with fewer to the actions and learning domains (most indicators have been allocated to more than one domain). The focus on resources and capacities is consistent with literature that finds most existing indicator-based approaches assess community resilience through a set of capacities (e.g. Norris et al. 2008).

Table 1 Allocation of indicators to the emBRACE framework domains

emBRACE framework domains

Count of indicators

Resources and Capacities

110

Actions

63

Learning

51

Further, indicators have been allocated mostly to the socio-political and human components of the resources and capacities domain. Concerning the actions domain, most indicators cover the mitigation and (with minor importance) the preparedness components. The response and recovery components are less often addressed. 

The systematisation of indicators allowed us to apply a certain type of filtering in order to derive a list of key-indicators of community resilience within emBRACE. Specifically, we defined emBRACE key-indicators as indicators that were rated with a high importance by the case studies, are universally applicable, show a clear relation to resilience and that were mentioned by more than one case study.

This list of key-indicators supports our choice of an integrative approach within emBRACE, since both quantitative and qualitative indicators, as well as different scales of application resulted as being important.

Recommendations

We recommend using some form of guideline for community resilience indicator development as a source of information on proper indicator application in practice. In Becker et al. (2015) we have provided a structure within which key-indicators can be extracted, whilst at the same time recognising (and emphasising) local and contextual circumstances of resilience assessments.

Further resources

  • Suggested citation

    Becker, D., Schneiderbauer, S., Forrester, J., Pedoth, L. (2018). Combining Quantitative and Qualitative Aspects of Indicators for Assessing Community Resilience. In Framing Community Disaster Resilience (eds H. Deeming, M. Fordham, C. Kuhlicke, L. Pedoth, S. Schneiderbauer and C. Shreve). doi:10.1002/9781119166047.ch10

    References

    Becker, D., Schneiderbauer, S., Forrester, J., Pedoth, L. (2015) Guidelines for development of indicators, indicator systems and provider challenges. Deliverable 3.5, emBRACE project

    Birkmann, J., Chang Seng, D., Abeling, T., Huq, N., Wolfertz, J., Karanci, N., İkizer, G., Kuhlicke, C.,Pelling, M., Forrester, J., Fordham, M., Deeming, H., Kruse, S., Jülich, S. (2012): Systematization of Different Concepts, Quality Criteria, and Indicators. Deliverable 1.2, emBRACE project

    Norris, F., Stevens, S., Pfefferbaum, B., Wyche, K., Pfefferbaum, R. (2008) Community Resilience as a Metaphor, Theory, Set of Capacities, and Strategy for Disaster Readiness. American Journal of Community Psychology, 41 (1-2), 127-150.

    Taylor, R., Forrester, J., Pedoth, L. and Matin, N. (2014) Methods for integrative research on community resilience to multiple hazards, with examples from Italy and England. Procedia Economics and Finance, 18, 255-262.

     

    Further readings