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Organizational Resilience: The Theoretical Model and Research Implication

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Organizations are all subject to a diverse and ever changing and uncertain environment. Under this situation organizations should develop a capability which can resist the emergency and recover from the disruption. Base on lot of literature, the paper provides the main concept of organizational resilience; construct the primary theoretical model and some implications for management.
Theoretical model of organizational resilience Combined with the work of Lengnick-Hall et al. (2011 [13] ) and Cunha et al. (2013) [19] , this paper regard that organizational resilience is influenced by many factors, many levels. We try to construct a multi-level and multi-factors model in Figure 1. The paper think an organization need become resilient at individual level, group level and organization level. The factors of every level are different. Resilient individuals as part of the whole organizational system are expected to be a positive factor for organizations to develop their resilience capacity. The Personal character such as confidence, optimism, faith and belongingness are contributed to individual resilience (Luthans et al., 2006 [21] ; Cunha et al., 2013 [19) ). Resilient groups developed the capacity to see failures and imperfections as sources of learning and progress. Edmonson (2007) [22] thought that a combination of psychological safety and accountability are critical ingredients for the group level. For the organizational level, the adaptive structures, improvisation, social capital and the attention to failure are the main factors. In addition, there is a mutual influence between different levels. We think there is a " level transition " phenomenon from the low level to high level. The relation interaction between members can promote group resilience and organizational learning can help group to form organizational resilience. The above model is only a preliminary idea, especially the impact of each dimension factors need to be determined, the overall follow-up also needs to be adjusted and improved in next work.
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Organizational Resilience: The Theoretical Model and Research Implication
Lei XIAOa, Huan CAOb
Economic and Business School, University of Electronic Science and Technology of China, Chengdu, China
axiaolei@uestc.edu.cn, bcaohuan@uestc.edu.cn
Abstract: Organizations are all subject to a diverse and ever changing and uncertain environment. Under this
situation organizations should develop a capability which can resist the emergency and recover from the disruption.
Base on lot of literature, the paper provides the main concept of organizational resilience; construct the primary
theoretical model and some implications for management.
I Introduction
In recent years, the management of crises and disasters has
become a key topic of concern for both practitioners and
academics. Natural disasters, pandemic disease, terrorist
attacks, economic recession, equipment failure and human
error can all pose both a potentially unpredictable and
severe threat to the continuity of an organization’s
operation.Bhamra et al., 2011[1], Zolli & Healy, 2012[2].
The annual number of these high-risk events worldwide
has steadily increased from around 350 in 1980 to almost
1000 in 2014 and the direct loss increased by $ 250 billion
from $ 50 billion (UN, 2015). Different organizations have
different reaction when facing these destructive dangerous
situations, some organizations have been successfully
adjusted and continue to grow and some organizations are
lack of response and eventually closed down.
Crises may precipitate form a number of sources, but
regardless of their severity or intensity, the challenges
crises need for varying approaches to deal with them. In
the attack of disruptive environment, why some
organizations succeed while others failed? Coutu (2002) [3],
Hamel & Välikangas (2003) [4] presented the
“Organizational Resilience” in Harvard Business Review.
In recent years, the literatures about organizational
resilience have increased in academic journals.
What is the organizational resilience, which elements it
consists, and how its management implications and such
as a series of questions are mentioned on the research
agenda. This article summarizes the existing
organizational toughness literature, firstly we review the
concept and factors of organizational resilience, then the
paper propose a theoretical model of organizational, the
last is the implication to management research.
2 The concept of Organizational
Resilience
The term “resilience” comes from the Latin word “resilire”
(which means to leap or jump back). In the academic
community Resilience first produced in the field of
ecology. Holling (1973) [5] considered that Resilience
determines the persistence of relationships within a
system and is a measure of the ability of these systems to
absorb changes of state variables, driving variables, and
parameters, and still persist. After then, resilience has
been developed in many areas such as ecology (Walker et
al. 2002[6]), engineering (Hollnagel et al., 2006[7]),
psychologyPowley, 2009[8]), organization management
Weick, 1993[9] Gilbert, Eyring, & Foster, 2012[10]).
At present, there has no an uniform definition of
organizational resilienceLinnenluecke,2017[11].Scholars
give the conception from the system point social,
psychological point and strategic management point of
view. Sutcliffe and Vogus (2003)[12] argue that resilience
is an organizational level phenomenon as the power of
organizational units to resume, rebound, bounce back, or
positively adjust untoward events. Lengnick-Hall et
al.(2011)[13] defined organizational resilience as a firm's
ability to effectively absorb, develop situation-specific
responses to, and ultimately engage in transformative
activities to capitalize on disruptive surprises that
potentially threaten organization survival. Annarelli and
Nonino(2016)[14] think resilience is a capability to face
disruptions and unexpected events in advance thanks to
the strategic awareness and a linked operational
management of internal and external shocks. The research
on resilience has experienced high reliability organization,
positive organizational behavior, business model, and
supply chain stages.
The organizational resilience is different from
adaptability, agility, flexibility, improvisation, recovery,
redundancy and robustness. Resilience involves the
reaction of the organization under destruction, which
emphasizes the ability of recover and develops in a state
of uncertainty, discontinuity, and emergency.
In this paper, we define organizational resilience as
DOI: 10.1051/
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© The Authors, published by EDP Sciences. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative
Commons Attribution
License 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
organization’s ability to restore to the original state even
develops a new skill in disruptive conditions. In
particular, organizational resilience has the following
characteristics
1) Resilience is a capability under discontinuous,
emergent internal and external environment. The
organizational resilience is a potential capacity which
cannot be perceived in operation activities of organization.
But when the environment becomes disruptive and
emergent, organizational resilience can take advantage for
organization.
2) Resilience emphasis on survival, adaptability,
bounce back and development under disruptive situation.
Organizational resilience is recovery ability after
destruction rather than a resistance to unexpected event.
Organization with high resilience can adjust timely and
shape a new capacity confronted with a variety of
dramatic changes.
3) Organizational resilience is a multi-level
conception and related to the organizational resources,
routines and process. Resilience across levels including
individuals, groups and organizations and depends on the
interactions among different levels. Meanwhile, resilience
is a process which affected by resources and routine of
organization.
3 The Factors of Organizational
Resilience
Some literatures put forward the factors and specific
measurements of organizational resilience in various
angles, this paper only list few representative ones. In a
system viewpoint, Tierney (2003) [15] dimensionalizes the
construct with four dimensions of robustness, redundancy,
resourcefulness and rapidity. Deniz and Arzu (2015) [16]
developed three dimension structure of organizational
resilience: robustness, agility and integrity. In strategic
viewpoint, McManus (2008) [17] think that a resilient
organization should need situation awareness,
management of keystone vulnerabilities and adaptive
capacity. Akgün, A. E., & Keskin, H. (2014) [18]
considered lots of elements including competence
orientation, deep social capital, original/unscripted agility,
practical habits, behavioral preparedness and broad
resource networks. In psychology and organizational
behavior, Weick (1993) [9] provides that ability to
improvise, virtual role systems, organizational wisdom
and respectful individual and social interactions have
great impact on organizational resilience.
Another representative article is Lengnick-Hall et al.
(2011) [13], which divided organizational resilience into
cognitive dimensions, behavior dimensions, and context
dimensions. In other words, a resilient organization needs
to express resilience completely in these three aspects.
Cognitive resilience is a conceptual orientation that
enables an organization to notice, interpret, analyze, and
formulate responses in ways that go beyond simply
surviving an ordeal. Behavioral resilience is the engine
that moves an organization forward. This property
enables a firm to learn more about the situation and to
fully use its own resources and capabilities through
collaborative actions. Contextual resilience provides the
setting for integrating and using cognitive resilience and
behavioral resilience. Contextual resilience is composed
of connections and resources.
E. Cunha et al. (2013) [19] deconstructed organizational
resilience from three levels: individual level, group level,
and organizational level. The employee is the basic
elements of organization system and the individual
resilience is the main source of organizational resilience.
Individual has resilience does not mean that groups or
organizations he or she belongs to also have such
characteristics, there need some process to realize it.
4 The Theoretical Model of
Organizational Resilience
Organizational resilience is a newer tradition in
organizational theory that incorporates insights form both
coping and contingency theories. Although some
literatures have analyzed the concept and measurement of
organizational resilience, there is still a lack of integrative
construct.The empirical research is also difficult due to
the unpredictability of crisis disasters and the lack of
samples. Some scholars thought that organizational
resilience is contextual which means a resilience specific
to a certain situation. It is important to realize that
resilience arises from a complex interplay of many factors
at different levels of analysisVan Der Vegt et al.,
2015[20]).
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Figure 1. Theoretical model of organizational resilience
Combined with the work of Lengnick-Hall et al.
(2011[13]) and Cunha et al. (2013) [19], this paper regard
that organizational resilience is influenced by many
factors, many levels. We try to construct a multi- level
and multi-factors model in Figure 1.
The paper think an organization need become resilient
at individual level, group level and organization level.
The factors of every level are different. Resilient
individuals as part of the whole organizational system are
expected to be a positive factor for organizations to
develop their resilience capacity. The Personal
character such as confidence, optimism, faith and
belongingness are contributed to individual resilience
(Luthans et al., 2006[21]; Cunha et al., 2013[19)). Resilient
groups developed the capacity to see failures and
imperfections as sources of learning and progress.
Edmonson (2007) [22] thought that a combination of
psychological safety and accountability are critical
ingredients for the group level. For the organizational
level, the adaptive structures, improvisation, social capital
and the attention to failure are the main factors.
In addition, there is a mutual influence between
different levels. We think there is a “level transition”
phenomenon from the low level to high level. The
relation interaction between members can promote group
resilience and organizational learning can help group to
form organizational resilience.
The above model is only a preliminary idea,
especially the impact of each dimension factors need to
be determined, the overall follow-up also needs to be
adjusted and improved in next work.
5 The Quest for Management Research
Resilience is generally seen as a desirable
characteristic for an organization. More and more
publications were found in academic journals, but there
are lots of works to accomplish in management research.
1. The research of resilience need be strengthened.
The academic community is already aware of the urgency
of resilience and has some development in this area.
However, there is a lack of research on the measurement,
the realization mechanism and the relationship with other
organizational variables, the advanced discussions of the
organization's resilience developed slowly (Vegt et al.
2015) [20]. Linnenluecke2017[11] pointed out that the
context of resilience, organizing for resilience, measuring
resilience and multi-level and cross disciplinary work are
the primary research in future.
2. Combination of resilience and traditional problems.
The other management research topics such as
organizational culture, organizational structure, collective
mind, social capital, psychological safety, supply chain
and so on are relevant with organizational resilience.
Once academia get consensus on the concept,
measurement, model and mechanism of organizational
resilience, lots of valuable problems can be studied.
3. Organizational resilience and the management
practice. How to become a resilient organization?
Especially under the crisis and disaster situations, utilize
the organizational resilience theory to makes
organizations overcome adversity. Resilience capacity
can be developed and managed. For example, in the
human resources management, managers can take
specific HR principles and HR policies to enhance the
employees and the overall organizational resilience.
6 Conclusion
Organizational resilience has been considered as an
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important field in management. This research give the
concept, measures and integrated model of organizational
resilience. The model includes lot of factors, relations and
mechanisms. We find that there is great potential for
future research within the area of resilience. For
enterprises, they should be aware of the challenges of
uncontinuous and disruptive environment and build
resilience capability or prepare to do something in
advance.
Acknowledgement
This paper was supported by Chinese Higher-education
Institution General Research and Development Funding
(ZYGX2015J161, ZYGX2014J101) and Ministry of
Education in China, Humanities and social science
projects (14YJC630001).
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Chapter
Teams und ganze Organisationen kann man wie Individuen auch (s. Beitrag 2–11 «Individuelle Resilienz») als mehr oder weniger «resilient» qualifizieren. Die resilient(er)en sind die, die unter Belastungsdruck genau so reagieren wie resiliente Individuen auch: Sie regenerieren schneller oder bleiben «psychisch gesund trotz (belastendem) Stress» (Kalisch, 2017). «Psychisch gesund» kann auf die Team- und Organisationsebene so übertragen werden: Sie erhalten sich die Funktionen, die Teams oder ganze Organisationen weiterhin gut funktionieren lassen – wobei das, was als eine solche Funktion identifiziert wird, dann als «Resilienzfaktor» gelten kann, den man am besten schon vor, aber auch während und nach dem belastenden Stress stärken sollte. Entsprechend definiert der British Standard BS 65000:2014 organisationale Resilienz als «ein strategisches Ziel, das dazu dient, Organisationen beim Überleben und Gedeihen zu helfen. [Sie besteht in …] der Fähigkeit, kleine alltägliche Ereignisse, akute Schocks und chronische oder inkrementelle Veränderungen vorwegzunehmen, sich darauf vorzubereiten, auf sie zu antworten und sich an sie anzupassen.» (Rosenberg, 2015). Um dieses Ziel zu erreichen, gibt es mehrere Wege. Im Folgenden stelle ich zunächst einige Grundelemente des theoretischen Hintergrunds von Team- und organisationaler Resilienz vor. Danach folgen vier Modelle, die Vorschläge machen, wo man ansetzen kann, um Resilienz im Team oder in der ganzen Organisation, in der man Führungsverantwortung wahrnimmt, zu steigern. Es ist gut, diese Modelle genau genug zu kennen, um entscheiden zu können, welches am besten geeignet ist, wenn es darum geht, die Resilienz von Teams oder Organisationen zu steigern.
Chapter
Aus ihrer Zeit als Bundesministerin für Arbeit und Soziales stammt das Zitat von Ursula von der Leyen „Unser Ziel ist Resilienz, also Widerstandsfähigkeit – nicht nur für jeden einzelnen Beschäftigten, sondern vor allem auch für die Unternehmen als Ganzes.“ Damit Resilienz auf allen Ebenen, intra- und interpersonal als auch intra- und in Ansätzen auch interorganisational Wirkung entfalten kann, braucht es ein Ineinandergreifen diesbezüglicher Konzepte, persönlicher Einsichten und praktischer Werkzeuge, die Mitarbeitende und Führungskräfte dabei unterstützen, in Herausforderungen nicht nur zu bestehen, sondern sich zu entwickeln. Und dies sowohl als Einzelne/r wie auch als Team und als organisationale Gemeinschaft. Dabei werden interdisziplinäre Ansätze und Erkenntnisse in die Tat umgesetzt, um Orientierung zu geben, was wie getan werden kann, damit Resilienz in der Organisation entsteht.
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