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G. Stoney Alder
Year Published:

Cataloging Information

Fire Communication & Education
Crisis Communication
Human Dimensions of Fire Management
Human Factors of Firefighter Safety
Organizational Culture & Identity

NRFSN number: 15893
Record updated:

Alder recognizes two decisions common to both the Mann Gulch and Storm King Mountain fires that influenced the behavior of firefighters during critical moments: 1) failing to question authority and 2) failing to obey authority. He argues that these failures are based on individual perceptions of legitimate authority. There are four issues contributing to decreasing perceptions of legitimate authority between crew members and their leaders, including lack of prior experience, positive mutual interaction, communication of procedural explanations, and communication of process control. Managers who want to increase the legitimacy of their authority in the eyes of their team members should learn from the mistakes made by leaders and participants in both these fires.


Alder GS. 1997. Managing environmental uncertainty with legitimate authority: a comparative analysis of the Mann Gulch and Storm King Mountain Fires. Journal of Applied Communication Research 25, pages 98-114.


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