Including the capacity for coping with surprises in post-disaster recovery policies. Reflections on the experience of Tangshan, China

James K. Mitchell


Surprises are characteristic features of many disasters that pose major challenges to theorists as well as practitioners. When surprises occur during the recovery stage of disasters, they can complicate efforts to reestablish order, by introducing new variables that demand attention from societies that are already hardpressed to adjust to a problem-laden environment. The case of Tangshan, China stands as an example of an economic development surprise that permitted decision-makers greater than anticipated latitude to reset and attain post-disaster policy goals.