Matter of trust: How to include digital volunteers in crisis management

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Digital volunteers are becoming more visible actors in crises. By collecting data, correcting misinformation, and organizing help, they are often a much-needed resource in crisis management. Despite this, authorities generally see spontaneous volunteers as a risk and a burden, thereby creating a paradox identified by Harris and colleagues. To extend the paradox to digital volunteers, this study aims to understand how Finnish emergency response organizations perceive spontaneous digital volunteers and how these could become a resource in crisis management. Eight informants representing six authorities/non-governmental organizations were interviewed in March 2019. The results show that authorities see potential in digital volunteers but only for strictly limited tasks as problems with trust and volunteers' lack of knowledge and training stand in the way of cooperation, thus confirming the paradox. The main contribution of this study is to show how the involvement/exclusion paradox exists in the relationship and may create barriers between authorities and digital volunteers.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Contingencies and Crisis Management
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 5 Jul 2023
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


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