Dr. J.J. Wolbers

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+31 20 59 86913
faculteit der sociale wetenschappen ( afdeling organisatiewetenschappen )
Postdoc Researcher


Monday to Friday


• Emergency / Disaster Management
• Inter-Organizational Coordination
• Knowledge Management
• Complex Adaptive Systems 

And please check my website to learn more about my interests.


PhD Project

My PhD research is aimed at explaining inter-organizational coordination in Emergency Management. During disasters organizational processes are executed under extreme time-pressure, ambiguity, complexity and chaos. Emergency responders from police, fire- and medical services must strive for immediate coordination of work activities in these harsh environments.
Recent research indicates that emergency response systems are characterized–apart from the official organizational command structure–by formal and informal processes of networking, mutual adaptation and improvisation. Because each organization has operational field units at different levels, different functional command structures and separate back offices for information and resource management, coordination processes occur simultaneously at multiple levels within the emergency management response system.
Ex-post evaluation of emergency management operations shows that organizing inter-organizational collaboration under high pressure is a combination of preparedness and improvisation. Moreover a paradox exists between structural designs on the one hand and the need for more flexible and adaptive coordination approaches on the other hand. Unambiguous command is needed for the timely direction of the involved units, but at the same time flexibility, on-the-spot decision making and adaptation towards the continuously changing situation is required.
In my PhD research project we zoom in on the organization of emergency response during large emergencies in the Netherlands and try to unravel how inter-organizational coordination is achieved. Three important aspects are considered in this study of coordination in dynamic environments: coordination by mutual adjustment, complex adaptive group interaction and the construction of mutual understanding between those groups for achieving synchronized action.




Publications (Source: METIS VU)

Journal Articles

  • Wolbers, J., Boersma, K. (2013) The Common Operational Picture as Collective Sensemaking, Journal of Contingencies and Crisis Management, 21(4): 186-199
    Wolbers, J., Groenewegen, P., Molle, J., Bim, J. (2013) Incorporating Time Dynamics in the analysis of Social Networks in Emergency Management, Journal of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, 10(2): 1-31
  • Boersma, K., Wagenaar, P., Wolbers, J. (2012) Negotiating the Trading Zone. Creating a shared information infrastructure in the Dutch Safety Sector, Journal of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, 9(2): 1-26

Book Chapters

  • Wolbers, J., Groenewegen, P., Wagenaar P. (2009) ‘ICT to Facilitate Emergency Response in the Netherlands’ In: J. Salmons and L. Wilson, Handbook of Research on Electronic Collaboration and Organizational Synergy, Hershey: IGI Global: 626-636


  • Wolbers, J.J., Boersma, F.K. & Heer, J.M. de (2012). Netcentrisch Werken in Ontwikkeling. Een cultuuronderzoek naar multidisciplinaire samenwerking en gezamenlijke operationele beelden in de Veiligheidsregio’s. Den Haag: De Swart.

Conference Proceedings

  • Messemaker, M., Wolbers, J., Treurniet, W., Boersma, K. (2013) Shaping Societal Impact: between control and cooperation. In: T. Comes, F. Fiedrich, S. Fortier, J. Geldermann and T. Muller (Eds.), Proceedings of the 10th International Conference on Information Systems for Crisis Response and Management ISCRAM 2013. Baden-Baden, May 2013: 901-905
  • Passenier, D., Mollee, J., Wolbers, J., Boersma, K. & Groenewegen, P. (2012). Formalization of crisis response coordination from a public inquiry report. In: L. Rothkrantz, J Ristvei & Z. Franco (Eds.), Proceedings of the 9th International Conference on Information Systems for Crisis Response and Management ISCRAM 2012. Vancouver, April 2012: 1-5
  • Treurniet, W., van Buul-Besseling, K. & Wolbers, J. (2012). Collaboration Awareness. A necessity in crisis response coordination. In: L. Rothkrantz, J. Ristvej & Z. Franco (Eds.), Proceedings of the 9th International ISCRAM Conference. Vancouver, April 2012: 1-5
  • Boersma, F.K., F.P. Wagenaar, and J. Wolbers (2010) Organizing Emergent Safety Organizations. The travelling of the concept ‘Netcentric Work’ in the Dutch Safety Sector. In: S. French, B. Tomaszewski and C. Zobel (Eds.), Proceedings of the 7th International Conference on Information Systems for Crisis Response and Management ISCRAM. Seattle, April 2010: 1-6.

Ancillary activities

Koninklijke Landmacht (Reservist) - Employee Amersfoort, 01 februari 2013
Last changes Ancillary activities: Amsterdam 27 januari 2017