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Exploring the dynamics


Donor governments (e.g., federal or state governments) provide

incentives for recipient governments to implement certain

initiatives or policies with certain emphases and they typically

set some regulatory conditions in the grants. Recipient

governments (e.g., local governments) are required to find the

balance between the donors’ preferences and local tastes to

secure their grants and satisfy local needs.

In the context of EM, vertical collaboration also involves

intergovernmental grants. Although local governments serve as

the first respondents to emergencies, their expenditure on

mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery rely heavily on

federal grant programs. These grants are offered in the form of

categorical grants, which are accompanied by various political

guidelines and bureaucratic rules (Sylves, 2007). In order to be

funded successfully, local governments must “prepare and

submit an application; prove that they deserve the funds; meet

ever-changing conditions (even after the grants are awarded);

demonstrate how the money is being spent; document (often in

painstakingly detail) how the funding has enhanced EM; and

obey time limits that stipulate when the federal funds will be

made available, when they may be obligated, and when they may

be spent” (Sylves, 2007: 301).

Moreover, local governments are also required to

participate in a standardized national system such as the

National Response Framework (NRF) and National Incident

Management System (NIMS) in order to coordinate efficiently

with the federal government to deal with natural disasters and

terrorist attacks. These national plans and systems can be seen

as another form of vertical collaboration (McEntire & Dawson,

2007). Recently, Brooks, Bodeau, and Fedorowicz (2012)

collected empirical data from multiple cases to develop a

conceptual framework characterizing both the vertical and

horizontal dimensions of interorganizational complexity. How

state-level emergency managers articulate large-scale response