Date of Award

Spring 5-2011

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Economic and Workforce Development

Committee Chair

Heather Annulis

Committee Chair Department

Economic and Workforce Development

Committee Member 2

Cyndi Gaudet

Committee Member 2 Department

Economic and Workforce Development

Committee Member 3

Patti Phillips

Committee Member 3 Department

Economic and Workforce Development

Committee Member 4

Brian Richard

Committee Member 4 Department

Economic and Workforce Development


On August 29, 2005, residents of Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi's Gulf Coast Regions faced death and destruction as Hurricane Katrina made landfall. The hurricane presented numerous challenges to the Gulf Coast Region; hence, many residents continue to rebuild more than five years later. Small business owners, in particular, comprise one of the populations hardest hit.

Prior research identified barriers to recovery hindering small business owners post-Hurricane Katrina. The purpose of the current research is to determine how "recovered" small businesses overcame financial barriers post-Hurricane Katrina. This study examines the recovery process from the small business owners' perspective and evaluates the strategies undertaken by "recovered" owners prior to and after the storm. The researcher explores the crisis planning, crisis management and resiliency frameworks, as well as the impacts of issues encountered after the storm. Through the mixed methods research design, this research investigates the lived experiences of small business owners in Hancock County, Mississippi and offers effective recovery strategies to future business owners threatened by natural disasters. The researcher utilized survey research and conducted five in-depth interviews to capture business owners' responses to loss during the hurricane. Demographic information was calculated and analyzed for the quantitative data and content analysis occurred for the qualitative data.

Key findings indicate that successful small business owners utilized the following strategies during the recovery process: expansion of customer base, community collaboration, adjustment of business objectives and personal or self-insurance. The findings of this research contribute to small business owners' understanding of essential components of recovery; thus, improving recovery timelines. The highlighted strategies also advance the understanding of the relationship between crisis planning prior to a disastrous event and the increased ability to recover after a crisis. Businesses in hurricane-prone areas continue to face the threat of disaster; however, with knowledge and effective strategies from this research, businesses have the tools to conquer the uncertainty with success.