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Resilience, Adaptation and Improvisation–increasing resilience by organising for successful improvisation

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The paper discusses how the concept of resilience has improvisation as a key premise. The paper aims to map out where aspects of improvisation are inherently part of resilience. The results are discussed in terms of possible organizational consequences in high risk environments. Three different approaches are applied; First; how resilience and improvisation are related in general. Second; improvisation in resilient adaptation, in which sensemaking plays a key part. Third; recasting resilience and improvisation onto the Cynefin framework for making sense of complex systems and organizations. The paper integrates the three approaches to resilience and improvisation, and outlines what types of initiatives it may be relevant for organizations to take with respect to design, work organization and training to facilitate successful improvisation. By suggesting improvisation as an engine of resilience, it follows by implication that resilience as such does not preclude the possibility of inadequate improvisation. Hence, the potential for serious safety breaches remains, regardless how resilient we may be.
Paper presented at the 3rd Symposium on Resilience Engineering
Antibes, Juan-Les-Pins, France, October 28-30, 2008
Resilience, Adaptation and Improvisation
– increasing resilience by organising for successful improvisation
Tor Olav Grøtan1, Fred Størseth2, Maren Helene Rø3 and Ann Britt Skjerve3
1 Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), Trondheim, Norway
tor.o.grotan@ntnu.no
2 SINTEF Technology and Society, Trondheim, Norway
fred.storseth@sintef.no
3 Institute for Energy Technology, The OECD Halden Reactor Project, Halden, Norway
maren.ro@hrp.no, ann.britt.skjerve@hrp.no
Abstract. The paper discusses how the concept of resilience has
improvisation as a key premise. The paper aims to map out where aspects
of improvisation are inherently part of resilience. The results are discussed
in terms of possible organizational consequences in high risk
environments. Three different approaches are applied; First; how
resilience and improvisation are related in general. Second; improvisation
in resilient adaptation, in which sensemaking plays a key part. Third;
recasting resilience and improvisation onto the Cynefin framework for
making sense of complex systems and organizations.
The paper integrates the three approaches to resilience and improvisation,
and outlines what types of initiatives it may be relevant for organizations
to take with respect to design, work organization and training to facilitate
successful improvisation. By suggesting improvisation as an engine of
resilience, it follows by implication that resilience as such does not
preclude the possibility of inadequate improvisation. Hence, the potential
for serious safety breaches remains, regardless how resilient we may be.
1 INTRODUCTION
Hollnagel (2004) argues that when a work situation is planned, four conditions are
usually assumed: 1) inputs to the work process are regular and predictable; 2) the
demands and resources are within limits; 3) working conditions in general fall within
normal limits; and 4) output complies with the expectations or norms. In practice, the
four conditions are often not fulfilled, bringing employees to adjust their work practices
to get the job done. The adjustments will involve trade-offs between requirements for
efficient and safe performance, and may imply that established rules and procedures are
deviated. Reliable outcomes require the capability to sense the unexpected in a stable
manner and yet deal with the unexpected in a variable manner (Weick and Sutcliffe,
Paper presented at the 3rd Symposium on Resilience Engineering
Antibes, Juan-Les-Pins, France, October 28-30, 2008
2
2007). Decision support related to such trade-offs is needed to build a resilient
organization (Woods and Wreathall, 2003).
Resilience Engineering (Hollnagel, Woods and Leveson, 2006) as a theory covers a lot,
also in a literal sense. The far reaching scope of the theory may conceal or overshadow
key premises. This paper is based on the assumption that improvisation is one of those.
Improvisation as a concept have traditionally been associated with handling of
exceptions. As Resilience Engineering emphasises the constantly changing environment,
it could be argued that all operational activities should be considered from a non-routine
perspective, A similar point is made by Weick and Sutcliffe (2007) in terms of their
principle of Sensitivity to Operations, which emphasise that any function must be
implemented in a specific context, and that even minor contextual differences may imply
some degree of adaptation. The distinction between Regular, Irregular and Unexampled
events (Westrum, 2006) may therefore be somewhat misleading, creating an impression
that the lion’s share of dangerous events can be handled as non-singular instantiations of
categories of events, in a repeatable manner. A distinct focus on improvisation however,
renders plain and intelligible the need for constant awareness and adaptation.
Theories of Resilience implies the use of “provoking” concepts and terms, advocating a
certain degree of “letting go” that jeopardise traditional assumptions of staying in
control. Highlighting improvisation will not bring more comfort in that sense, but
contribute to a more realistic view on the challenges of managing complex systems.
2 IMPROVISATION IN RESILIENCE
As anticipation, attention and response are seen as key qualities of a resilient system
(Hollnagel and Woods, 2006), improvisation embraces these by “thinking in action”
(Cunha et al., 2002). Improvisation is characterised by nearness in time between
planning and execution of an action (Chelariu et al., 2002; Moorman & Miner, 1998),
and as a behavioural and cognitive time-constraining activity to meet certain objectives,
implying deviations from existing practice or knowledge (Chelariu et al., 2002).
Resilience in terms of the ability to expect the unexpected and look beyond the obvious
goes beyond experience (Hollnagel and Woods, 2006). “Requisite imagination”
(Adamski and Westrum, 2003) is a mandatory principle for resilience.
Improvisation supports this by creating more flexible behaviour to achieve objectives in
a new ways (Chelariu et al., 2002). Improvisation may create, solve or worsen a
problem. To facilitate the ability to improvise successfully, a number of factors, e.g.
expertise, teamwork quality and a high level of real-time information, have to be in place
(Crossan & Sorrenti, 2002). However, there are no alternatives: Though humans might
not be well suited or may lack the adequate resources and tools, they will occasionally
be required to engage in improvisation. Their ability to improvise successfully should
thus be supported by the organization.
Improvisation is thus too important for resilience to be marginalized as a piece of
bricolage, that is, as accidental tinkering through the combination of resources at hand.
On the other hand, recognizing bricolage is important because it is a “natural” form of
disclosing new uses and applications of technology and things at hand (Ciborra, 2002).
Paper presented at the 3rd Symposium on Resilience Engineering
Antibes, Juan-Les-Pins, France, October 28-30, 2008
3
3 ADAPTATION AND IMPROVISATION
Adaptation is a central part of resilience. Adaptation comprises knowledge in terms of
Anticipation (what to expect), Attention (what to look for), and Response (what to do)
(Hollnagel and Woods, 2006, 350). These three elements (A-A-R) are not positioned
such that anticipation precedes competence, which in turn precedes response. Rather, all
three should be continuously applied. How may improvisation contribute to countering
of failures in single elements, or in combinations thereof? E.g., may improvisation
compensate for anticipation failure so that the attention - or response - ensures success
instead of failure. Improvisation may also be a source of failure in the adaptation
process. We see three ways of addressing this issue: 1) reductionistic: looking for
improvisational elements in A-A-R respectively; 2) holistic: looking for improvisational
dynamics in adaptation as a whole; and 3) critical: questioning the unity of adaptation.
Reductionistic: Improvisation in Anticipation, Attention and Response
Improvisation in Anticipation implies the presence of a repository of cases, facilitation
of imagination and creativity, and reluctance to simplify. People should be socialized to
make fewer assumptions, notice more, and ignore less (Weick and Sutcliffe, 2007, 95).
Improvisation in Attention implies the ability to interpret signals in many ways, and be
sensitive to a greater variety of inputs. It also implies that people that are expected to
improvise are not “technologically locked in” to what Hollnagel and Woods (2005)
denotes a hermeneutic relation, in which technology enforces a specific interpretation.
Improvisation in Response implies the ability to create new patterns of anticipation and
attention within a short time frame, that is, “thinking in action”.
Holistic : Adaptation by Sensemaking
A resilient system must be in a constant preparedness to respond to unforeseen events
and surprises. This kind of preparedness appears related to characteristics like flexibility,
creativity, and spontaneity. The forward looking readiness (and capacity to respond)
resembles a highly proficient coping ability. This kind of readiness must be filtered
through our capacity to perceive, understand and make sense of what is experienced. The
concept sensemaking refers to the processes involved in this human propensity to ascribe
meaning. Sensemaking is a process of structuring the unknown, and can be described as
a complex interaction of seeking information, ascribing meaning, and action. According
to Weick, Sutcliffe, and Obstfeld (2005), sensemaking is not a conscious human process,
but a process that will come into play as an intuitive reaction (e.g. to unfamiliar or
chaotic situations). Weick et al. (2005, 409) define sensemaking as being about “the
interplay of action and interpretation rather than the influence of evaluation and choice.”
Resilient watchfulness and readiness to respond stands out as features in which elements
of improvisation seems involved, and the concept of sensemaking raises some
interesting issues: First, being watchful and able to manage the unforeseen must depend
upon both skills and knowledge. This is close to what Tierney (2003) terms
resourcefulness (capacity to identify problems and establish priorities) and rapidity
Paper presented at the 3rd Symposium on Resilience Engineering
Antibes, Juan-Les-Pins, France, October 28-30, 2008
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Paper presented at the 3rd Symposium on Resilience Engineering
Antibes, Juan-Les-Pins, France, October 28-30, 2008
(capacity to meet priorities and achieve goals). Sensemaking takes these aspects further
based on the proposition that we make sense of our experiences by using our past; and
vice versa. Past and present are hence tied together. If our perception and understanding
is filtered via, and linked to our history, will not this also imply a limitation in terms of
what we are capable of being ready for; what we are able to make sense of, improvise
and respond to? On the other hand, sensemaking represents a way to reinterpret the past,
thus expanding and developing our knowledge base and coping ability.
A second theme that ties in with the above is the point made by Weick et al. (2005), that
sensemaking is more of an intuitive reaction than it is a conscious process. By
implication, will not this suggest that the ways we make sense of the world (e.g.
improvise and act upon it) are inescapably based on a knowledge repertoire that we
never fully take into conscious evaluation? Third, the capacities to anticipate and react to
unforeseen events, positions the ability to improvise as a sort of engine; improvisation
becomes a force that enables this flexible and creative solution oriented disposition. The
ideal is to bounce back, recover, or evade by anticipation. Given that some response is
needed however, there is always the possibility that improvisation goes awry. If
sensemaking as a retrospective process is part of this improvisation, there is a risk that
the repertoire of past experiences may suggest wrong solutions for the problems at hand.
Critical: Adaptation by Containment
Weick and Sutcliffe (2007) argues that resilience (as part of containment) may be seen
as coping with problems posed by anticipation and planning, as well as reacting to
emerging problems that cannot be foreseen. They argue that this requires a different
mindset than anticipation and planning. Hence, the unity of Adaptation as such is
questioned, indicating a need for mutually excluding staffing and training regimes.
Emerging patterns can in some cases be spotted early by “re-inventing” the past to match
it with a similar pattern, that is, by sensemaking. Improvisation can thus be seen as a
junction from anticipation into coping, or seen as divided into two separate forms.
4 RECASTING OF RESILIENCE AND IMPROVISATION
The need for resilience is often justified by intractability, which may be perceived as
(Perrowian) complexity or incomprehensibility, or fundamental un-order. However,
resilience is also justified by the lack of time to analyse a complicated system or
operation in depth (e.g. the ETTO1 principle), thus it is necessary (or more practical) to
rely on resilience. That is, a more “economical” ability to cope with “surprises” – being
unavoidable or not - as they show up. The objective of the Cynefin framework (Kurtz
and Snowden, 2003) is to make sense of systems that are perceived to be both ordered
(Known or Knowable) and un-ordered (Complex or Chaotic) at the same time (Fig. 1).
We argue that while Resilience is apparently targeting Complex systems, the ETTO
principle actually also implies Knowable systems. In the latter case, lack of time and
1 Efficiency-Thoroughness Trade-Off (Hollnagel 2004)
5
resources renders the Knowable system intractable in an epistemological sense, while in
the former case the intractability has an ontological reason. Moreover, we argue that the
central ambitions of Resilience Engineering can be can interpreted in terms of Cynefin
dynamics, e.g. (referring to the right side of Figure 1):
Detecting a possible unexpected variation, and stabilising it to avoid harm
(“Exploration” and “Just-in-time-transfer”)
“Bouncing back” and mitigating surprising variations that can develop into
dangerous sequences (“Divergence-Convergence”)
“Bouncing back” on severe circumstances that threatens the system as a whole,
into a degraded mode of operation (“Swarming” or “Imposition”)
Pavard et al. (2008) argue that there is a significant difference between resilient
engineering and robustness engineering (encompassing the possibility of self-
organization). We argue that the Cynefin framework can encompass both.
From our definitions of improvisation in section 2, only one is easily mapped to the right
(ordered) side of Cynefin in terms of a high speed analytical process. The others may be
interpreted as a kind of sensitivity to changing circumstances and emergent problems,
emphasising the significance of both probing and acting on the system.
Figure 1. The Cynefin framework. Excerpts from Kurtz and Snowden (2003)
From Section 3, we recall that improvisation is about interplay of action and
interpretation, and about interchangeably looking forward and backward in order to
make sense of what is happening. This maps neatly to the very idea of Cynefin
dynamics; to use different frames of interpretation, according to circumstances.
Improvisation could thus be perceived as the “engine” that actually drives movements
between (Cynefin) domains, and thus makes resilience something substantially different
from economically motivated substitution of rational analysis in advance.
5 IMPLICATIONS FOR ORGANISING RESILIENCE
What implications does the above line of reasoning have for our ability to increase
Paper presented at the 3rd Symposium on Resilience Engineering
Antibes, Juan-Les-Pins, France, October 28-30, 2008
6
resilience by organizing for successful improvisation? What initiatives might it be
relevant to implement with respect to work training, design, and work organization?
Adaptation – anticipation, attention, and response - might serve as a starting point for
indicating the contours of what an answer to this question might look like.
To facilitate successful improvisation, training should be directed at improving the
trainees’ ability to anticipate and attend to patterns in the system’s behaviour. A basic
element in this type of training could be to present trainees with a group of scenarios,
which contain a varied set of examples of (“unexpected”) situations. The scenarios
should imply that the boundaries for acceptable performance (Rasmussen, 1997) would
become manifest during training. The ability to recognize patterns might further be
facilitated by the introduction of human-system interfaces developed based on the
ecological design approach (e.g., Vicente and Rasmussen, 1992). To respond adequately
in a situation which involves improvisation, the employees should have available - and
efficiently master – a set of response options, which allow flexible intervention,
depending on the particular needs in the situation at hand. To facilitate successful
improvisation it would further be of key importance that the users obtain feedback (as
immediately as possible) on the effects of their responses, to allow them to adjust their
course of action. Improvisation is needed in situations were unforeseen events occur. For
this reason it cannot be determined in advance what type of work organization that will
most adequately facilitate performance prior to an occurrence. The ability of a work
organization to reconfigure spontaneously in demanding operating situations is a key
characteristic of high-reliability organization (e.g., LaPorte & Consolini, 1991). This
suggests that “improvising organizations” should allow for reconfiguration of their work
organization when this is required.
6 CONCLUSION
Properly addressed and facilitated within an organization, improvisation could be made a
booster for resilience. However, improvisation may always go wrong, thereby rendering
plain and intelligible the inherent vulnerabilities in complex systems that cannot be
avoided, whatever sophisticated methods we employ in order to reveal the most intricate
secrets of their behaviour.
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... If it is accepted that uncertainty stemming from incomplete information, inadequate understanding or equivocal alternatives is a way of business life then it also ought to be accepted that sensemaking is a necessary capability to survive in such an environment (Lipshitz and Strauss, 1997;Snowden, 2005aSnowden, , 2005b.Without sensemaking, team members might find themselves paralyzed and unable to act upon what is expected of them (Lipshitz and Strauss, 1997;Luscher and Lewis, 2008), or they may even indulge in ignoring weak cues and suppressing uncertainty (Lipshitz and Strauss, 1997). In brief, the notion of sensemaking can be considered as an important input component for the team resiliencea form of team outcome (Grøtan et al., 2008;Klein et al., 2010;Lengnick-Hall and Beck, 2009). ...
... This leads to differences in how teams interpret their environment and in their ability to survive and prosper given ostensibly similar challenges. This study enriches the existing literature on team resilience and It is imperative to state that most of the previous studies have explored the direct relationship between sensemaking practices and team resilience (Beunza and Stark, 2004;Grøtan et al., 2008;Lengnick-Hall and Beck, 2009;Takeda et al., 2017). A few studies have Values for moderator are mean, þ one standard deviation of mean. ...
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... These results confirm anecdotal evidences provided by Rerup (2001), Best and Gooderham (2015), Frykmer, Uhr, and Tehler (2018) as well as by Mendonca and Friedrich (2006) all of whom believe that improvisation plays a role in fostering organizational resilience. They are also consistent with Van de Walle (2014) as well as Grøtan, Størseth, Rø, and Skjerve (2008) when their scoping studies of extant literature revealed that "over-proceduralized" and "over-organized" establishments leave little room for concrete solutions to emerge especially during a crisis situation. ...
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Chapter
Humans can change the forces of nature that they are subjected to. We have the ability to imagine alternative futures and to formulate solution to facilitate human development. However, we have had a tendency to focus on the past on which future adaptation is based. Cardinal elements in human survival are the anticipation of future risk and the adaptation of behavior that will reduce disaster risks. Anticipation is, however, not an innate ability, but rather a skill to be mastered. In this chapter, the foci will be placed on the concept of disaster risk reduction to investigate the relations between anticipation and disaster risk reduction, and its role in the disaster risk domain. Disaster risk within complex adaptive systems will be discussed, because cognition of anticipation is found within the processes thereof. Subsequently, the phenomenology of anticipation will be introduced as present in the social sphere. To explain the relation between anticipation and disaster risk reduction, anticipatory methods (double-loop learning, scenario planning, and action learning) for disaster risk reduction enjoys attention.
... H1 and H2 were formed based on anecdotal evidence provided by Rerup (2001), Best and Gooderham (2015), Frykmer, Uhr, and Tehler (2018) as well as Mendonca and Friedrich (2006) all of whom suggested that the propensity of individuals within a system to improvise influences the way they prepare for, adapt to, and possibly weather a disturbance or unexpected event. Scoping studies of extant literature conducted by Van de Walle (2014) as well as by Grøtan, Størseth, Rø, and Skjerve (2008) also served as a basis for the first 2 pairs of -concrete solutions to emerge especially during a crisis situation. Apparently, only by demonstrating creative, flexible behavior in response to an unexpected event can the chances of survival, recovery, and even renewal increase for a business entity which undergoes a setback. ...
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Extant literature hints that improvisation can now go beyond the jazz metaphor and be scaled for use in an organizational setting. To test this, we investigated the moderating effect of selected entrepreneur demographics on the hypothesized improvisation-resilience nexus. We polled 103 entrepreneurs, and then invited several expert respondents to corroborate the survey findings. Linear regression analysis subsequently revealed that improvisation is a highly significant predictor of organizational resilience. Selected entrepreneur demographics such as age, educational attainment, years of business experience, form of business ownership, type of business operations, and firm size were all shown by moderated regression to amplify the effect of improvisation on resilience. Key recommendations included the need to fortify small business resilience (a) by designing a resource plan for crisis threshold, (b) through the use of collective improvisation, and (c) by having a combination of different income sources within and across customer groups.
Chapter
Digital transformation turns critical infrastructures into cyber-physical systems, introducing unprecedented levels of complexity and vulnerability. As the evidence of surprise and shocks involving cyber-physical systems is high and rising, concepts of resilience are increasingly enrolled in discourses around vulnerability in critical infrastructures. In this chapter, we discuss the theoretical foundations for a concept of cyber resilience, and the needs, potentials, and pitfalls in this respect. Our aim is to point to a research agenda of abductive reasoning, where a concept of resilience is developed through stepwise, reflexive theoretical advances together with ongoing efforts of empirical grounding in particular cyber-physical domains.KeywordsCyber resilienceDigital transformationCritical infrastructures
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A Engenharia da Produção tem o desafio um cenário de intensa industrialização e globalização, especialmente a otimização dos processos e avanços tecnológicos, e este cenário tem motivado muitos estudos científicos na da Engenharia de Produção e áreas afins. Os avanços nas mais diversas áreas que cunharam o cenário globalizado, nos despertam para o aprendizado contínuo. Dentro deste contexto, este livro tem por finalidade estimular a aprendizagem e avanços na Engenharia de Produção e áreas afins. Estudantes, professores e profissionais que desejam ampliar o conhecimento no campo de atuação da Engenharia de Produção poderão conhecer um pouco mais sobre esse universo e suas áreas de atuação nesta obra de rápida consulta. Tópicos Especiais em Engenharia de Produção II foi organizado em dezessete capítulos, convido você a ser curioso e a avançar por suas páginas. Os capítulos apresentam estudos científicos sobre Gestão de Estoque, mais especificamente estrutura dos processos de e aplicação das Curvas PQR e ABC, além dos conceitos técnicos, abordam-se que influenciam decisivamente os processos para o alcance de melhorias nas organizações. Você também encontrará um estudo sobre a exposição a ruído e vibração a que estão expostos os trabalhadores que utilizam perfurador de solo motorizado, e a evolução da legislação. Os capítulos subsequentes apresentam estudos em projeto de conformação mecânica, formação continuada no serviço público, gestão hospitalar e áreas de conhecimento e atuação da Engenharia de Produção e áreas afins para incentivar reflexões e discussões sobre os temas.
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Improvisation is a deliberate, spontaneous and rational decision-making process that helps address emerging issues or unplanned work. Traditional management avoids relying on improvisation as it indicates deviation from the pre-planned procedures and standards. However, improvisational practices continue to exist within numerous uncertain environments such as construction where improvised actions emerge even though they are not encouraged. The purpose of this study is to develop a better understanding of the improvisational practices occurring in construction and recognize the factors contributing to successful improvisation. This study elucidates antecedents, behaviours and consequences of improvisation in various construction operations. Surveys were conducted among different construction professionals to understand improvisation on real-life construction projects. Statistical analyses show that personal experience and the type of organization a person works for have a significant effect on the outcomes of improvisation. In addition, results highlight the most frequent antecedents that trigger the need for improvisation to complete a certain task. The outcomes of this study can help managers and decision makers in the construction industry identify personal, organizational and other specific characteristics that may improve the practice of improvisation for complementing planning processes rather than undermining them.
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Safety is Not a System Property One of the recurrent themes of this book is that safety is something a system or an organisation does, rather than something a system or an organisation has. In other words, it is not a system property that, once having been put in place, will remain. It is rather a characteristic of how a system performs. This creates the dilemma that safety is shown more by the absence of certain events – namely accidents – than by the presence of something. Indeed, the occurrence of an unwanted event need not mean that safety as such has failed, but could equally well be due to the fact that safety is never complete or absolute. In consequence of this, resilience engineering abandons the search for safety as a property, whether defined through adherence to standard rules, in error taxonomies, or in 'human error' counts. By doing so it acknowledges the danger of the reification fallacy, i.e., the tendency to convert a complex process or abstract concept into a single entity or thing in itself (Gould, 1981, p. 24). Seeing resilience as a quality of functioning has two important consequences. • We can only measure the potential for resilience but not resilience itself. Safety has often been expressed by means of reliability, measured as the probability that a given function or component would fail under specific circumstances. It is, however, not enough that systems are reliable and that the probability of failure is below a certain value (cf. Chapter 16); they must also be resilient and have the ability to recover from irregular variations, disruptions and degradation of expected working conditions.
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Research on human reliability, human performance, and organizational aspects of risk have led to the emerging area of Resilience Engineering as an alternative to error tabulations. This paper sketches the development of Resilience Engineering as the new field which enhances organizations' ability to monitor for risks in how the organization monitors its risks and to target safety investments proactively despite ongoing production and economic pressures. Introduction Safety is a system property, encompassing components, subsystems, software, organizations, human behavior, and their interactions. Recent major mishaps and case studies have identified the critical need for organizations to re-tool their engineering processes and capabilities to address human and organizational risk factors (e.g., Stephenson et al., 2000). Assessment of case studies and strategic analyses have identified the need to monitor and manage risk continuously throughout the life cycle of a program to keep safety in balance with high pressure to achieve production and efficiency goals (Gehman et al., 2003). Resilience Engineering is the new field which uses the insights from research on failures in complex systems, organizational contributors to risk, and human performance to develop engineering practices including measures of sources of resilience, decision support for balancing production/safety tradeoffs, and feedback loops that enhances the organization's ability to monitor/revise risk models and to target safety investments (Cook et al., 2000; Reason, 2001; Carthey et al., 2001; Woods and Shattuck, 2000; Hollnagel, 2004). Resilience Engineering has emerged as a natural evolution from the principles of organizational reliability (Reason, 1997; Weick, et al., 1999; Westrum, 1999) and new understanding of the factors behind human error and performance (Rasmussen, 1990; Woods et al., 1994; Cook et al., 1998). As a result, the new field is developing ways to incorporate human and organizational risk in life cycle systems engineering tools and to develop knowledge management tools that capture effects of human and organizational factors on risk proactively.
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We define organizational improvisation as the degree to which the composition and execution of an action converge in time, and we examine the theoretical potential of this definition. We then propose that both organizational procedural memory (skill knowledge) and declarative memory (fact knowledge) moderate improvisation's impact on organizational outcomes in distinct ways. We also suggest that improvisation influences organizational memory by (1) generating experiments and (2) permitting the development of higher-level competency in improvisation, Contemporary technological changes related to the nature of organizational memory intensify the salience of these issues.
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In this article, the authors review the growing body of literature on organizational improvisation in order to present an encompassing and systematic perspective on this concept. An integrative definition of its construct is presented together with a new way of measuring this phenomenon in organizational settings. The article further explores this construct by presenting its triggers, necessary conditions, influencing factors and major outcomes. The issues of improvisation’s growing legitimization in the organizational arena for practitioners and researchers alike are addressed in order to argue for the need for and interest in a fuller development research on this concept.