In recent years the recovery efforts following major disasters, such as the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami, Hurricane Katrina and the 2010 Haiti earthquake, have highlighted the need for a better understanding of what factors lead to the recovery of communities. Previous studies have clearly demonstrated that there is wide variation in how well different communities recover after a disaster, with some achieving greater resilience while others become more vulnerable. And, while there have been increasing numbers of individual and small-n case studies of disaster recovery in recent years, there have been few broad comparative studies that link post-disaster actions and pre-disaster measures of resilience and vulnerability to long-term recovery outcomes. This paper answers the question “why do communities recover differently from the same disaster?” using a novel method, fuzzy-set Qualitative Comparative Analysis (fsQCA), to determine what combinations of pre-disaster factors and recovery strategies led to successful post-tsunami community recovery in Tamil Nadu, India. Data was collected on infrastructural and social recovery outcomes for each community in addition to suspected conditions that affect recovery through observations, interviews and secondary sources in 15 villages. Results found multiple pathways to the different recovery outcomes for these villages. In particular, pre-tsunami factors of social vulnerability and access to government resources were important, as were the recovery agency embeddedness, coordination and oversight for both infrastructural and social recovery.

Jordan, E. and Javernick-Will, A. (2013). “Pathways to Community Recovery Following the 2004 Tsunami in Tamil Nadu, India.” Engineering Project Organization Conference, Granby, CO.