This research is a case study that focuses on the dyamics of the disaster relief system of Tzu Chi Foundation. Based on the concept of self-organization proposed by complexity theorists, this research investigated the interactions among the members of Tzu Chi Foundation when they participated in disaster relief works. By analyzing effects of the behavioral rules as well as the different patterns of self-organization on the performance of disaster relief system of Tzu Chi, the following four major findings are presented:
First, Tzu Chi has employed both conservative and dissipative self-organization in its disaster relief system so as to better adapt to the demands of different types of disasters. Second, among all the behavioral rules, the value of Tzu Chi is the most common one that affects the behaviors of all people in the disaster relief system. The other rules, on the other hand, tend to have different effects in terms of their domain size, domain density, and longevity. Third, the disaster relief system of Tzu Chi has a structure that combines hierarchy and networks and displays certain features of multi-level marketings. Fourth, the disaster relief system of Tzu Chi keeps on expanding its membership by touching the heart of the victims and attracting them to join Tzu Chi’s volunteer groups.
Based the research findings stated above, the following suggestions for future research are proposed. First, to investigate the relationships between the rules and patterns of self-organization with computer simulation. Second, to include other cases and study the similarities and differences of self-organization occurred in other groups and organizations. Third, to investigate the links and their effects on information delivery in the disaster relief system according to network theory. Fourth, to investigate the influence of membership outflow on the self-organization of the disaster relief system.