Responding to Typhoon Risk: Factors That Influence Taiwan’s Local Elected Officials’ Suspension Decisions





Published date: 

December, 2020


Wen-Jiun Wang
Tien-Shen Li


Local elected officials are expected to advise or mandate their citizens to take protective action when their communities face imminent risk. These decisions are challenging, as they must be made with imperfect information. This study identifies the factors that influence Taiwan’s local elected officials’ decisions to suspend public and school operations in response to impending typhoon risk. Through an analysis of data collected from semi-structured interviews with nineteen informants, this article reveals multiple interrelated factors that influence such decisions. These factors include (1) the storm’s strength, timing, speed, and path; (2) a jurisdiction’s geographical, economic, and social characteristics; (3) internal stakeholder factors; (4) external stakeholder factors; and (5) the elected officials’ experience, knowledge, and values. These factors contribute to the suspension decision process because officials are under pressure to meet legal, managerial, and political accountabilities. This study reveals the complexities associated with risk response decision making and contributes to our understanding of how public officials make decisions in uncertain situations.