Management of an emergency evacuation: Research Questions

Management of an emergency evacuation: Research Questions


We were interested in analyzing how a leader can be a resource in case of emergency. In particular, how a leader can positively affect the behavior of his/her team during an emergency situation. We supposed that it can influence it in two different ways: or through a transformational style of leadership, or thanks to his/her knowledge of the emergency measures and a positive attitude toward them. We took in consideration also the level of selfconfidence as an leader’s characteristic which can play a positive role affecting the team’s behavior.

For this reason, the aim of this exploratory pilot study is to test the relationships presented in Figure 7.

Figure 7

Firstly, we suppose that leaders who rate to have higher levels of transformational leadership will also report a higher degree of self-confidence during the emergency situation. Indeed, confidence is one of the quality of a transformational leader and one of the effects of a transformational leadership is that it raise members’ self-confidence. We are interested to prove if it is the same during an emergency situation, which is different from an ordinary working context.

Hypothesis 1: Transformational leadership will be correlated to self-confidence

Moreover, we suppose that the level of self-confidence will be affected by the knowledge about the emergency plan. We think that leaders who know more about the emergency procedures will feel more confident in dealing with the emergency situation. As Gershon and colleagues (2007) have pointed out, knowledge about the emergency plan supports the evacuation process during an emergency. In this study we want to know if self-confidence is a variable that plays a role in this situation. For this reason we formulated the following hypothesis.

Hypothesis 2: Knowledge about the emergency plan will be positively correlated to      the level of self-confidence in leading the situation.

We also suggest that leaders who have developed a positive attitude toward the emergencyplan will fell more confident in handling the emergency situation. Indeed, only if a leader thinks that the emergency plan is understandable and safe, he/she will feel sure about how to lead the situation.

Hypothesis 3: Positive attitude toward the emergence plan will be positively correlated to the level of self confidence in leading the situation.

Furthermore, we suggest that leaders who feel self-confident will have a positive impact on their team emergency response. We suppose that team members will feel reassured and won’t panic following the instructions of a leader who seems to control the situation efficiently. For this reason we propose the following hypothesis:

Hypothesis 4: The level of self confidence will be positively correlated to the team emergency response.

Trying to get more information about the relationships between the variables considered, we also propose a model in which the level of self-confidence can be predicted by transformational leadership, knowledge about the emergency plan and the positive attitude toward it (Figure 8). So, we suppose that leaders who have higher level of knowledge about the emergency procedures and positive attitude toward them, but also higher levels on the transformational leadership characteristics will feel more confident in leading an emergency situation.

Hypothesis 5: A transformational style of leadership, a high level of knowledge about the emergency plan and a positive attitude toward it will be predictors of the level of self-confidence in leading an emergency situation.

Figure 8

Moreover, we want to better understand the role of a transformational style of leadership in affecting the team emergency response.

According to Bass and Avolio (1994), transformational leaders are perceived like models from the team’s members, or followers, inspiring and motivating them and also enhancing their job performance. We assume that leaders who adopt this kind of leadership style will have an effect on their teams performance also during an emergency situation. Nevertheless, in this relation, we also take into account the self-confidence variable. More in detailed, it is assumed that self-confidence will affect the relationship between transformational leadership and team emergency response. We imagined, indeed, that self-confidence will have a moderator effect between transformational leadership and the team emergency response (Figure 9). Indeed, if leaders adopt a transformational style and feel confident in leading the emergency situation this will positively affect team emergency response.

Hypothesis 6: Transformational leaders who have higher level of self-confidence will result in higher levels of team emergency response.

Figure 9

Moreover, this study presents some descriptive analysis about the evacuation process that occurred in the organization considered.