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Why do some organizations and societies successfully adjust and even thrive amid adversity while others fail to do so? With this editorial, we would like to inspire management scholars to take up the “grand challenge” of studying the role and functioning of organizations during adverse natural or social events.
rAcademy of Management Journal
2015, Vol. 58, No. 4, 971980.
http://dx.doi.org/10.5465/amj.2015.4004
FROM THE EDITORS
MANAGING RISK AND RESILIENCE
Editors note: This editorial is part of a series
written by editors and co-authored with a se-
nior executive, thought leader, or scholar from
a different field to explore new content areas
and grand challenges with the goal of expand-
ing the scope, interestingness, and relevance of
the work presented in the Academy of Man-
agement Journal. The principle is to use the
editorial notes as stage settersto open up
fresh new areas of inquiry for management re-
search. GG
Ten years of Global Risks reports by the World
Economic Forum show a daunting list of risks that
challenge humankind, including water and food
crises, terrorist attacks, cybercrime, financial crises,
and extreme weather events, among others (World
Economic Forum, 2015). The annual number of
these high-risk events worldwide has steadily in-
creased from around 350 in 1980 to almost 1,000 in
2014 (UN, 2015). Managing the devastation of these
disaster events extends beyond concerns about
mortality; economic losses are rising from around
U.S.$50 billion in the 1980s to around U.S.$250
billion in the last decade (UN, 2015). Similarly,
cataclysmic effects caused by climate change
will, with increasing regularity, shape business
and society (Howard-Grenville, Buckle, Hoskins, &
George, 2014).
The larger scale and impact of adverse events is
the result of the increased density of global net-
works of people, organizations, and countries. High-
risk events that, at first, seem to cause only local,
isolated effects can now snowball in magnitude
and do damage to vital infrastructures that impact
events on a regional and even global scale. The ash
from the erupted Eyjafjallaj ¨
okull volcano in Iceland,
for example, disrupted air transport across Europe
and strongly affected the whole worlds manu-
facturing supply chain. At its peak, the crisis im-
pacted 29% of global aviation and affected 1.2
million passengers a day. Collectively, businesses
from dozens of countries lost billions in uninsured
losses (Munich RE, 2011). The 2006 Hengchun
earthquake in Taiwan involved limited loss of life
and injury, and, although buildings collapsed, fires
broke out, and the Maanshan Nuclear Power Plant
was affected, the situation was kept under control.
However, the earthquake severely damaged the
submarine communication cables that served much
of East and South-East Asia, with profound effects
on communications and financial transactions in
the area (Smith & Petley, 2009).
Although adverse events of all kinds are in-
evitable and have larger impacts, some organ-
izations and societies are better able to rebound
from and sustain such shocks than are others.
Analyses of recovery processes after the New
Zealand earthquakes revealed that businesses with
strong pre-existing organizational collaboration
networks were better able to access support and
organize themselves than those that did not have
such networks in place (Stevenson et al., 2014). And
although the quadruple disasterearthquake, tsu-
nami, nuclear alert, and power shortagesthat hit
Japan in 2011 severely damaged the supply chain of
Toyota, resulting in a global production loss for the
company of 5% in 2011, Toyota claimed it was able
to limit its losses due to the collective and coor-
dinated efforts of suppliers, dealers, and overseas
operations (Asano, 2012). In contrast, Haitian busi-
nesses and organizations are still struggling to re-
build after the much smaller quake they endured
in 2010.
Why do some organizations and societies suc-
cessfully adjust and even thrive amid adversity
while others fail to do so? With this editorial, we
would like to inspire management scholars to take
up the grand challengeof studying the role and
functioning of organizations during adverse natural
or social events. Organizations form the nexus be-
tween individuals and societies. They provide em-
ployment for a large proportion of the community
and play an important role in delivering the essen-
tial services on which we all rely in our daily lives,
such as electrical power, water, food, health, com-
munications systems, financial services, and trans-
portation. Organizations also work together to shape
and mitigate the consequences of disasters when they
occur. More research focusing on a better understanding
971
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of the role and functioning of organizations in the
face of adverse events may therefore help to better
deal with disasters, and, ultimately, benefit society
as a whole.
UNDERSTANDING AND MANAGING RISK
The risks and adverse events on which we will
focus in this editorial are disasters and organiza-
tional crises. McFarlane and Norris (2006: 4) de-
fined a disaster as a potentially traumatic event
that is collectively experienced, has an acute onset,
and is time delimited; disasters may be attributed to
natural, technological, or human causes.Acrisis is
a low-probability, high-impact event that threatens
the viability of the system and is characterized by
ambiguity of cause, effect, and means of resolution,
as well as by a shared belief that decisions must be
made swiftly (Pearson & Clair, 1998). These adverse
events are caused by factors outside the system, are
unexpected, and require immediate action. Exam-
ples include hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, large
industrial and nuclear accidents, terrorist attacks,
and explosions.
The traditional way of coping with adverse events
is to develop approaches and systems to identify
risks. Empirical data, probability distributions, and
mathematical models are used to analyze past and
predict future adverse events. These forecasts en-
able decision makers to anticipate disturbances to
the normalstate of affairs and to make better-
informed decisions about how to manage risk port-
folios. While such an approach can certainly help
societies and companies to anticipate and mitigate
the consequences of some disasters and crises, it is
usually impossible to identify all potential risks and
to collect all the information necessary to conduct
adequate risk assessments. Indeed, in all of the ex-
amples listed above, traditional risk management
practices were insufficient to provide protection
against the adverse events that took place. A key
characteristic of many of the disasters and crises
societies face nowadays is that they are triggered
by improbable events the causes of which are not
well understood. Many crises emerge from a pat-
tern of several events coinciding in space and
time, and the joint occurrence and cascading con-
sequences of such adverse events are hard to antici-
pate and predict.
To cope with disruptive events that cannot be
adequately addressed with traditional risk man-
agement systems, a small but growing number of
academics, managers, policy makers, and politicians
have shifted their attention from identifying and
mitigating risk to trying to increase resilience.1The
term resiliencecomes from the Latin word resilire
(which means to leap or jump back). Resilience can
be a characteristic of many different types of human
collectives (e.g., families, organizations, and socie-
ties) that are, as the Japanese say, like bamboo,
which bends under the weight of winter snow but
stands tall again come springtime(Mitchell, 2013: i).
Resilience reflects the ability of systems to absorb
and recover from shocks, while transforming their
structures and means for functioning in the face of
long-term stresses, change, and uncertainty. This
requires actively understanding the risk landscape,
determining where those risks are best owned and
managed, strengthening the components of the sys-
tem that helps to face those risks, and understanding
how the interrelatedness of these components affects
system functioning.
In contrast to traditional risk management ap-
proaches that focus on the identification of risks
and alleviating the level of vulnerability to external
disturbances, adoptingaresilienceapproachto
disturbances implies focusing on capabilities and
capacities that create or retain resources in a form
sufficiently flexible, storable, convertible, and mal-
leable that enables systems to successfully cope
with and learn from the unexpected (Sutcliffe &
Vogus, 2003). The notion of resilience thus has the
positive connotation of flexibility and strengthen-
ing, whereas that of vulnerability can connote pas-
sivity, insecurity, and inevitability, none of which is
helpful for mobilizing action. Re-orienting from
vulnerabilityto resiliencealso better captures
the desired outcomepreparedness for dealing with
unforeseen disruptive events.
ORGANIZATIONAL RESILIENCE
The concept of resilience has its intellectual roots
in the field of individual psychology and the science
of child behavior, where it referred to the ability of
1In the context of disaster management, the term
resiliencewas established with the adoption of the
Hyogo Framework for Action 20052015 by the United
Nations following the World Conference on Disaster Risk
Reductionin2005.Theframeworkfocusedonthepri-
oritization of risk reduction, identifying risks and en-
hancing early-warning systems, building a culture of
safety and resilience, reducing underlying risk factors,
and strengthening disaster preparedness and response
capabilities.
972 AugustAcademy of Management Journal
individuals to withstand stress and bounce back or
recover from traumatic events (Masten & Monn,
2015). In disaster management and the organiza-
tional sciences, however, the dominant under-
standing of resilience has been influenced by
approaches rooted in either the engineering or eco-
logical sciences, where resilience is a characteristic
of a system rather than of the systems individual
parts (Adger, 2000). To understand a systems resil-
ience, it is important to identify the capabilities and
capacities of important parts of the system, and to
examine how they interact with one another and
with their environment to predict key performance
outcomes at different levels of analysis before and
after a disruptive event.
Systems, Networks, and Resources
The most important parts of organizations as
complex systems are, at the most basic level, their
employees. A critical source of capacity for orga-
nizational resilience is contained in the charac-
teristics of employees (Lengnick-Hall, Beck, &
Lengnick-Hall, 2011; Luthans, Youssef, & Avolio,
2007). Many employee characteristics might be
important in this regard, including individuals
skills and abilities, cognitions, affect, behaviors, and
self-regulatory processes. Examples include intelli-
gence, self-efficacy, emotional stability, openness
to experience, social support, emotion recognition,
self-discipline, resourcefulness, and cognitive flex-
ibility. Aggregated to higher levels of analysis, these
individual characteristics reflect the composition
of organizational (sub)systems, such as teams and
taskforces. In general, systems with a greater breadth
of resources offer, potentially, access to more tools
that might be used to withstand external disturbances
and respond in an effective way (Page, 2014). Re-
search has shown, for example, that the composi-
tion of teams in terms of personalities and abilities
significantly relates to their viability and ability to
work together (Bell, 2007).
Whereas the composition of individual char-
acteristics determines the systemspotential for
resilience, the relationships between individual
employees and the social network in which these
individuals are embedded strongly determine the
availability and accessibility of these capabilities
and resources for adaptive responses. Resources
embedded and available in social relationships can
only be accessed and mobilized when actors engage
in purposeful actions (i.e., social capital; Lin, 1999).
Relationships between employees characterized by
openness and generativitywhere new things are
learned, new opportunities identified, and new
insights originateenable groups of individuals to
use their collective resources, process information,
make sense of emergent issues, and see opportu-
nities for effective courses of action (Carmeli,
Friedman, & Tishler, 2013). Moreover, dense or-
ganizational networks can help to detect dis-
turbances early, respond quickly, and prevent a
disturbance from spreading. At the same time,
overly dense networks reduce efficiency and flex-
ibility, because maintaining redundant contacts
with large numbers of individuals is difficult and
time consuming. It also creates interdependencies
that can allow for a chain reaction of problems or
issues to arise. In times of crisis, therefore, diverse
modular systems, with bridges or hubs between
different subsystems that retain some self-sufficiency
when disconnected from larger networks, may be
better in terms of efficiency and effectiveness
(Burt, 1992).
Organizational Structure and Decision Making
Clearly, the resilience of organizations not only
depends on the availability and accessibility of
resources, but also on the formal organizational
structure. Contingency theory suggests that, although
mechanistic organizational forms are sufficient in
stable environments, changing environments re-
quire organizational forms that are more organic,
with greater connectedness among employees
(Lawrence & Lorsch, 1967). The very nature of
emergencies requires that organizations are able to
adopt decentralized decision-making structures,
rather than relying on hierarchy and centralization
of authority. During crises, formal role descriptions
usually no longer suffice; new procedures have to be
invented, and new ways of cooperation may need to
be developed. Such adaptive responses require the
ability to quickly transform the formal structure and
to use decentralized, team-based or network ap-
proaches to problem solving. Case studies related
to organizational resilience indeed suggest that
highly bureaucratic, command-and-control style
structures impede creativity and adaptive behav-
iors of employees (McManus, Seville, Vargo, &
Brunsdon, 2008).
Finally, organizational resilience is strongly af-
fected by the relationships with other organizations
and the environment. Many of todays organizations
are interconnected and interdependent in supply
chain networks. Problems experienced by one
2015 973van der Vegt, Essens, Wahlstr ¨
om, and George
organization can therefore strongly impede the
functioning of other organizations. The worldwide
trend in the last decades to increase the effective-
ness and the efficiency of supply chains has not
only reduced costs, but has also magnified the
consequences of disruptions: even small, local
events can escalate rapidly, thereby disrupting
business continuity and sustainable performance.
Research suggests that 75% of the companies ex-
perience a supply chain disruption at least once per
year, out of which 21% suffer more than V1 million
in costs associated with a single incident (Business
Continuity Institute, 2013). Good insight in the total
supply chain network, and how disruptions in
specific parts of that network may affect overall
production, improves the ability to reduce the neg-
ative consequences associated with supply chain
disruptions. After the Great East Japan earthquake
and tsunami, for example, manufacturers like
Toyota discovered that they had insufficient in-
sight into their third- and fourth-tier suppliers
(Schreffler, 2012). This motivated Toyota, for ex-
ample, to analyze future risks and its resilience
capacity for faster recovery.
MANAGING RESILIENCE: A RESEARCH
AGENDA
Although the notion of resilience has been widely
used in the psychological and socioecological lit-
eratures, empirical research on the factors that
contribute to organizational resilience is scarce,
despite calls for more research (e.g., Sutcliffe &
Vogus, 2003; Weick & Sutcliffe, 2001). There is an
abundance of valuable case studies, but also a clear
need to use these observations to build more gen-
eral theories that can be quantitatively tested and
used to equip decision makers with better models
to base crisis preparation and responses upon.
Below, we identify a couple of interesting and
important topics for research on organizational
resilience that might be examined by management
scholars.
Individual and Social Resilience
At the individual level of analysis, an impor-
tant question is what determines how individual
employees deal with adverse events, and what can
be done to increase their resilience. Employees may
be fully educated on the procedures and planning
in a time of emergency, but the significant losses
and trauma caused by adverse events may make it
difficult for them to focus on the disaster response
initiative. As a result, they may be unable to cope
with the effects of the disaster and unable to help
others. Interestingly, however, many people show
clear evidence of individual resilience in the face
of potential trauma (Bonanno, 2004). What are the
personal and social factors that make these
individuals resilient? What can be done to help
employees deal with the effects of adverse events
and how should human resources be managed not
only before but also after a disaster has taken place
(see Goodman & Mann, 2008; Pearson & Clair,
1998)? Addressing these questions is important
not just for employees but also for employers.
Employeesnegative psychological reactions to
adverse events may make them more focused on
self-preservation, less able to perform their roles,
and lead to absenteeism at a time that organizations
need their workers most (Ferris, Hochwarter, &
Matherly, 2007).
Another important question is how the absence of
employees caused by significant losses and trauma
affects the functioning and recovery of teams as
subsystems of organizations. Research on team
turnover suggests that this absence may negatively
affect social integration, learning, and flexibility
(e.g., van der Vegt, Bunderson, & Kuipers, 2010). In
the context of an adverse event, different processes
that influence team turnover and fluidity may be
more salient, and our assumptions about the nega-
tive effects of turnover and absenteeism may require
revision. Research has shown that, in response to
external pressures, employees engage in more
timely communication (Orlikowski & Yates, 1994),
as well as in more help seeking and giving (Ander-
son & Williams, 1996). This suggests that, in times of
crises, team members may engage in extra-role be-
havior, fill in for one another, and work more effi-
ciently, which may dampen the potentially negative
consequences of membership losses. Examining the
effects of team turnover and membership changes
under adverse conditions is an interesting area for
team researchers.
Natural disasters and events such as political
unrest also have profound implications for how
family and societal structures respond and adapt.
Whether it is Hurricane Katrina or the Boston Mar-
athon bombing, social structure and galvanizing of
support matters for social resilience. George, Kotha,
Parikh, Alnuaimi, and Bahaj (2015) showed that, in
contexts of desperate poverty in Africa, natural
shocks affect individual propensity to start a micro-
enterprise, but also that this effect is contingent on
974 AugustAcademy of Management Journal
the social structure of the families and communities.
When social structure disintegrates, families fall
deeper into desperate poverty and starvation. Social
resilience, or how communities come together after
disasters, will likely shape the journey toward re-
storative communal normalcy.
Coordination Within and Across Organizations
In order to effectively deal with adverse events,
teams may need to build and maintain direct
working relationships with one another (Marrone,
2010). Increasing our understanding of how re-
sponses to crises should be managed requires more
knowledge of coordination processes in organ-
izations. One issue is the role of lower-level lateral
coordination and vertical coordination by super-
visors in responding to emergencies. To what extent
can or should the coordination of operational and
task-related issues between teams be left to lower-
level team members? And to what extent should
supervisors and managers be involved in this
process? One might argue that managers, who are
uniquely positioned to understand overarching
strategic issues relevant for the system as a whole,
must coordinate lower-level activities. At the
same time, it seems that continuous and strict
vertical coordination is not efficient and may be
even impossible because crisis situations are
hectic and chaotic. What is the right mix of hori-
zontal and vertical coordination, and how does the
timing of these activities matter? It might be, for
example, that providing strategic direction is es-
pecially important when progress is reviewed and
task or environmental demands require system-
level leaders to rethink or recast the systemsdi-
rection (Uitdewilligen & Waller, 2011). Examining
these issues requires research focusing on inter-
team coordination processes and fine-grained
multilevel data of how these processes evolve
over time.
Network Resilience
Employee absence and malfunctioning commu-
nication systems due to emergencies may not only
affect team functioning but also strongly affect the
network ties between employees, the overall net-
work structure, the spread of information within
and between organizations, and, thereby, adaptive
responses. Here, we see interesting and important
research possibilities for organizational network
researchers. Barab´
asi (2003), for example, has suggested
that some network structures are more sensitive
to node and link removal than others. Within random
networks, missing nodes or a broken direct com-
munication link between nodes do not necessarily
have a large impact because alternative information
routes via other nodes are available. Beyond a cer-
tain threshold, however, the loss of more nodes or
links abruptly breaks the network into unconnected
subgroups. So-called scale-freenetworks are
almost invulnerable to random node or link re-
moval. At the same time, the focused and simulta-
neous removal of a few critical nodes may disable
such networks. It would be interesting to examine
which structural characteristics of social networks
determine their vulnerability and robustness,
and how changes in network structure influence
the ability to learn and adapt (see Kahn, Barton,
& Fellows, 2013). Much can be learned in this
regard from research on terrorist networks and
ways to disrupt them (see Ressler, 2006). This
research has pointed to the importance of the
average shortest path length between nodes (or
network diameter), network clustering, and network
hierarchy as important determinants of network
resilience.
The topic of resilience is also clearly relevant for
those studying supply chains. Given that supply
chains are the backbones of the global economy and
have a major influence on the social and natural
business environments, there is an urgent need to
find new ways of dealing with and overcoming in-
evitable supply chain disruptions and uncertainty.
Unfortunately, most research on resilience in the
supply chains literature has been conceptual; em-
pirical research testing these conceptual models
and examining the elements that are most likely to
make supply chains resilient is needed. This re-
search should also consider the price of creating
resilient supply chains. The vast theoretical litera-
ture on supply chain resilience sketches an over-
whelmingly positive image of resilience and rarely
includes any discussion of the costs of increasing
resilience. This is unbalanced, to say the least, be-
cause resilience is often described in terms of re-
dundancy and slack, which indicates inefficiency
and comes at a cost. The research challenge is to
find ways to increase supply chain resilience while
maintaining efficiency.
Governance and Tri-Sector Collaboration
Management scholars may also play an important
role in developing actionable knowledge for
2015 975van der Vegt, Essens, Wahlstr ¨
om, and George
effective governance (Tihanyi, Graffin, & George,
2014), especially in the case of disaster relief oper-
ations or social or political crisis events. McManus
and colleagues (2008) argued that organizations di-
rectly contribute to the speed and success of com-
munity recovery following a crisis or disaster.
Indeed, dealing with the consequences of disasters
requires the combined efforts of and considerable
interaction between multiple agencies, organizations,
businesses, and individuals to help save lives, restore
economic foundations, and resume normallife.
Evident from the New Zealand case mentioned
earlier and other case studies (e.g., Bach, 2015; Na-
tional Research Council Committee on Private
Public Sector Collaboration to Enhance Community
Disaster Resilience, 2011; Stevenson, 2014) is that
the role of privatepublic collaboration at the local
level is essential to the development of community
resilience and economic risk reduction.
Tri-sector collaboration is the coming together of
public and private sectors with civil society to
jointly address issues of relevance to society. Events
that affect communities can only be effectively dealt
with when the community or civil society engages
public or state entities and private corporations. The
value of multistakeholder collaboration has long
been recognized, but only recently have such com-
plex collaborative arrangements received scholarly
attention (Roehrich, Lewis, & George, 2014). Schol-
ars have identified misunderstandings and conflicts
resulting from differences between partner organ-
izationsworking methods and cultures as reasons
for why such efforts often fail, arguing that such
issues may hinder the realization of collective goals
(Lynch, OToole, & Biemans, 2014). Moreover, the
different parties involved may hold fundamentally
different goals and interests and strive to protect
their autonomy and unique identity (Agranoff,
2006), which results in a delicate, paradoxical pro-
cess of addressing the demands for unity and di-
versity simultaneously (Ospina & Saz-Carranza,
2005). How can the problems of complex collabo-
ration be overcome and managed? Research exam-
ining the factors that facilitate interorganizational
collaboration before, during, and after crises can
make an important contribution to our understand-
ing of managing and mitigating the consequences of
crises and disasters.
Examining Organizational Resilience
One of the reasons for the dearth of research on
organizational resilience may be that studying
resilience presents a challenge. Organizations typi-
cally constitute complex, large-scale entities that
work on varying tasks, under very different cir-
cumstances, and with particular effectiveness
criteria that do not lend themselves to easy com-
parison. It is not the purpose of this editorial to
discuss in detail all methods that can be used
to study resilience. Instead, we offer several sug-
gestions for how researchers might operationalize
(elements of) organizational resilience, and designs
that might be used to examine the drivers of organi-
zational resilience.
We would like to start by noting that it is difficult
to determine whether a system or one of its com-
ponents has recovered from an event and learned
from experiences if there is no baseline from which
to compare the observed performance of the system
with what would have happened if the event had
not taken place. Use of secondary data sources such
as employment, wages, family structures, energy
consumption, health care, household assets, and
wealth concentration can be useful benchmarks of
pre- and post-disaster events at the societal level.
Another possibility is to attempt repeated measures
to derive the extent to which individuals, groups, or
the whole organization achieve their goals. Goal
achievement should be reflected in scores on key
performance indicators representing the variety of
stakeholder interests critical for the viability of the
focal entity. At the individual level of analysis,
a viable indicator might be wellness”—reflected in
the absence of psychopathology, adequate role
functioning, and high quality of life (Norris, et al.,
2008). For teams and organizations, one can con-
sider customer satisfaction, financial performance,
transaction or logistics costs, and the timely de-
livery of services or goods. It is then possible to
determine which characteristics and capabilities of
(parts of) the system contribute to the ability of the
system to achieve its goals. The ease with which
scores on key performance indicators can be moved
away from desired levels indicate system vulnera-
bility or robustness. The adaptive capacity of the
system might be operationalized as the time it takes for
a system to recover from adverse events to pre-event
scores on key performance indicators or perform
even better. A system can be seen as more resilient
when it is more robust and less vulnerable to dis-
ruptions and recovers faster from disruptions when
they occur.
To study the factors that determine resilience, it
may be necessary to measure the relevant charac-
teristics and capabilities of individuals and (parts
976 AugustAcademy of Management Journal
of) the systems, such as those discussed above, and
relate those to individual or system vulnerability
and recovery indicators. This requires the tracking
of the functioning of individuals and systems over
a longer period of time during which one or more
disturbances take place. For groups or larger sys-
tems, this could be realized in an experimental
setting where individuals work together on a com-
plex task, and, after some time, one or more inter-
ruptions are introduced. Although it is impossible
to introduce realdisasters or crises, one could
easily introduce disturbances that can be expec-
ted to result from such adverse events (e.g., failure
of communication systems, high time pressure,
and loss of team members). Individual charac-
teristics of participants can be measured before
the experiment, and relationship characteristics,
emerging network structures, and participant
behaviors can be measured during the experi-
ment. Such experimental designs not only allow
researchers to collect data from a large number of
systems working on similar tasks with objective
performance criteria, but also to manipulate a vari-
ety of potentially important determinants of resil-
ience, such as the composition of (parts of) the
system, the relationships between individuals and
groups, and governance structures used to manage
the system.
Another option would be to examine resilience in
field settings by means of interrupted time-series
designs.In this case, one would collect data about
(sub)system performance at multiple levels and
points in time. Many organizations store archival
data on key performance indicators over longer
periods of time that can be used for research pur-
poses. Such data offer the unique opportunity to
quantitatively examine the longitudinal effects of
disruptions once they occur. Data about antecedents
of resilience can be collected using a mix of quali-
tative and quantitative methods. One might use
anonymized email data to operationalize network
structures and data from organizationsregular em-
ployee satisfaction surveys, or disaster reports to
measure emergent processes or individual responses
to disasters (for examples, see Butts, Acton, & Mar-
cum, 2012; Mendonça, Webb, Butts, & Brooks, 2014).
This enables researchers to examine the factors
that predict system vulnerability, robustness, and
recovery.
Irrespective of whether data will be collected in
experimental or field settings, it is important to re-
alize that resilience arises from a complex interplay
of many factors at different levels of analysis.
Resilience at one level may lead to resilience at
other levels, such as when positive practices are
transferred to a higher level. However, developing
capacity for resilience at lower levels does not au-
tomatically increase the overall resilience of the
system. Experts in an organization may be able to
observe warning signs for an unpreventable adverse
event, but their interactions with other experts and
decision makers may be decisive in terms of how
the organization responds. Research is necessary to
explore how organizations transform capacities and
capabilities for resilience into organizational dem-
onstrations of resilience. Moreover, because resil-
ience emerges from interactions among variables at
different levels that take place over time, changing
circumstances may change the presence, impor-
tance, and contribution of each of these variables
to resilience. A perspective that uncovers the ante-
cedents and processes underlying organizational
resilience therefore most likely requires a multi-
level and dynamic perspective (Lazega & Snijders,
in press).
Only if Business is Resilient can Society be
Resilient
As our society becomes more complex and
interconnected,andtheimpactofglobalfactors
becomes more immediate and menacing, organi-
zations will become more exposed to disruptive
events from a broad range of threats and hazards.
Effective response and recovery processes are
crucial to deal with these events and to save lives.
At the same time, proactive behavior and in-
vestment in prevention and mitigation is needed to
reduce the short- and long-term negative social and
economic impacts on peoples lives and business.
A crucial element in this strategy is to get agree-
ment between governments to invest in building
resilience at all levels of society (e.g., the Sendai
Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 20152030;
UNISDR, 2015).
Governments cannot realize this alone, and nei-
ther can grass-root organizations. Building resil-
ience requires the alignment of efforts at all levels of
society, people, businesses, communities, cities,
regions, and nations. This is a formidable task, but
increasing our scientific knowledge of what can be
done to make employees, groups, organizations, and
networks of organizations more resilient should
definitely help managers, policy makers, and poli-
ticians to develop courses of action that make our
society as a whole more resilient.
2015 977van der Vegt, Essens, Wahlstr ¨
om, and George
At the UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Re-
duction held in Sendai, Japan (March 1418, 2015),
187 UN Member States adopted the so-called Sendai
Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 20152030.
In an interview with the head of the United Nations
Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), Margareta
Wahlstr¨
om, we discussed the major scientific chal-
lenges in this development:
- The governance of riskhow much effort and con-
trol should be exerted by the government and how
much by societyis still open for further scientific
guidance.
- Resilience as a social concept is not well developed
and backed up by social science, and needs to be
measured.
- The positive idea that a crisis is an opportunity for
change, so that people and assets become more re-
silient for a next crisis, is insufficiently backed up
by evidence on how that works.
- Scientists need not only gather data and turn it into
their science, but also turn it around and contribute
to capacity and institution building and provide
access to the data.
- Scientists could help to increase our understanding
of how risks in the future might look like given long-
term trends of critical factors.
Gerben S. van der Vegt
University of Groningen
Peter Essens
TNO (the Netherlands Organisation for Applied
Scientific Research) and University of Groningen
Margareta Wahlstr ¨
om
UNISDR
Gerard George
Singapore Management University
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Gerben S. van der Vegt (G.S.van.der.Vegt@rug.nl) is
a professor of human resource management and organiza-
tional behavior at the Faculty of Economics and Business of
the University of Groningen in the Netherlands. His re-
search focuses on the processes and outcomes associated
with coordination and collaboration within and between
teams and organizations. He is an associate editor of the
Academy of Management Journal (AMJ).
Peter Essens (peter.essens@tno.nl) is a principal scientist in
behavioral and societal sciences at TNO (the Netherlands
Organisation for Applied Scientific Research) and, from
September 2015, director of the Centre of Expertise for
Human Resource Management and Organizational Behav-
ior at the Faculty of Economics and Business of the Uni-
versity of Groningen. His research interests include team
effectiveness, multiteam systems, and collaboration in ad
hoc collectives.
Margareta Wahlstr¨
om (wahlstromm@un.org) is the Spe-
cial Representative of the Secretary-General for Di-
saster Risk Reduction. She is also the head of UNISDR,
the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction,
which is the focal point in the United Nations system for
the coordination of disaster reduction and ensures syn-
ergies among the disaster reduction activities of the
United Nations system and regional organizations and
activities in socioeconomic and humanitarian fields.
She has extensive experience in both disaster relief
operations and disaster risk management, with the
United Nations system as well as with the International
Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. Her
broad experience spans conflict and non-conflict emer-
gencies, and addressing long-term issues of sustainable
development.
Gerry George (ggeorge@smu.edu.sg) is dean and professor
of innovation and entrepreneurship at the Lee Kong Chian
School of Business at Singapore Management University.
He also serves as the editor of the AMJ.
980 AugustAcademy of Management Journal
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