Date of Award

Fall 2019

Document Type

Dissertation Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Public Administration (DPA)


Public Policy and Administration

Committee Chairperson

Kristen Crossney, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Angela Kline, Ph.D.


As the threat of man-made, natural, and technological disasters grows worldwide, emergency management agencies must strategically focus their efforts on building and sustaining capabilities. In coordination with an emergency management agency’s strategic plan, conducting a capability and gap assessment is a unique method that provides jurisdictions with a comprehensive understanding of their risks and vulnerabilities, while increasing programmatic achievements. This mixed-methods research examines how a capability and gap assessment tool influences emergency management programs across several types of jurisdictions such as local, state, and federal agencies as well as hospitals and higher education institutions. The study, comprised of 14 semi-structured interviews with emergency managers across a defined region in the Commonwealth of Virginia in addition to 67 surveys from emergency managers across the globe, examines how emergency managers make programmatic decisions based on their past experiences as well as perceived threats and hazards in their jurisdictions. Additionally, the study analyzes organizational structures within emergency management and the impact on conducting capability and gap assessments within their jurisdictions.