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Why our Organizational Resilience Study is so significant

Why our Organizational Resilience Study is so significantWhy our Organizational Resilience Study is so significant? The significance of the study is that measuring resilience will properly quantify organizational resilience for respondent organizations in the state of New Jersey. Knowledge of an organization’s resilience score helps improve organizational behavior, coordination, and performance, because investments can then be made in organizational resilience weakness areas. Additionally this research provides insight into how organizational disaster preparedness and response is hampered by organizational structures based on resilience indicators. This research benefits respondent organizations in terms of building better organizational resilience by providing an understanding of the specific underlying resilience factors. In addition, this research benefits respondent organizations by identifying the organization’s overall resilience posture.

In recent years, the term resilience has been used to describe a burgeoning movement among organizations to improve their ability to respond to and quickly recover from catastrophic events such as natural disasters and terrorist attacks. As pointed out by Robert Kelly, (Assessing the Resiliency, 2008)

The current myopic focus on prevention ignores reality and discourages essential efforts towards preparedness. The fact is that not every catastrophic event can be prevented. As painful as it is to admit, we can no more prevent a determined terrorist from achieving an isolated victory than we can prevent a hurricane or earthquake. What we can control, however, is how we prepare for catastrophic events and how we react when the sad eventuality occurs. Making resilience a priority will ensure that we are adequately prepared for the next Hurricane Katrina or terrorist attack and that such an incident does not severely disrupt vital economic and social activity in this country.

Strengthening and enhancing an organization’s coordination, behavior, and performance regarding disaster preparedness and response inherently increases that organization’s resilience. This research is significant as it contributes to the business case for organizational resilience and demonstrates a link between resilience and competitive advantage.

Measuring and analyzing resilience can allow respondent organizations to assess their current resilience management strategies and evaluate their performance. With this information, respondent organizations can develop new strategies to address gaps in resilience and increase their resilience capabilities. Measuring and analyzing organizational resilience is about allowing a respondent organization to identify its underlying resilience characteristics. This research reviewed organizational resilience using data collected from a random sample of organizations within the state of New Jersey. This quantitative research analysis is part of the continuing use and development of a resilience measurement tool. This research has also added to the body of literature on organizational resilience and has identified leading indicators and metrics that can be used to measure it. This research further enhances current literature that relies on a qualitative case study approach (McManus et al., 2008) and on measuring latent resilience (Mallak, 1998b) or resilience potential (Somers, 2009).

To improve resilience, it is important for respondent organizations to make the link between resilience and organizational competitiveness and to invest in resilience. Mitroff (2005) points out, “Smart organizations practice crisis management equally in good and bad times. As a result, they execute substantially fewer crises and are substantially more profitable.” (p. 376) Organizational resilience is a continuously moving target, which contributes to performance during business-as-usual and crisis situations. It requires organizations to adapt and to be highly reliable (Weick & Sutcliffe, 2007) and enables them to manage disruptive challenges (Durodie, 2003). Seville et al. (2008) discussed organizational resilience as an organization’s “…ability to survive, and potentially even thrive, in times of crisis” (p. 2). Organizational resilience is important for two key reasons, primarily because community and organizational resilience are interdependent in a complex environment (Dalziell & McManus, 2004) and second because being resilient can provide organizations with a competitive advantage (Parsons, 2007). To allow an organization to invest in resilience there must be an established, reliable, and valid method of measuring it and subsequently a way of demonstrating changes and trends in the measurement scores over time. This research utilized a tool to measure organization’s’ resilience that will enable organizations to prioritize investment towards areas for potential improvement.

For centuries, natural, technological, and human-induced disasters have significantly and adversely affected people, communities, and organizations. Disasters such as Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005, the terrorist attacks on the United States in 2001, and more recently Superstorm Sandy in 2012, come to mind. These disasters are further reminders of the importance of social science and disaster research for extending our understanding on how human society copes with risks and disaster events when they occur. It is important that researchers as well as social scientists continue to systematically gather knowledge and conduct research on natural, technological, and human-induced disasters. According to Rodriguez, Quarentelli, and Dynes (2007),

Topics related to mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery should be at the forefront of these social science investigations to not only produce knowledge that is of interest to the research community but also to provide the basis for science-based decision making by planners, emergency managers, and other practicing professionals. (p. vii)

The term disaster is best defined by Merriam-Webster (1989) as “a sudden calamitous event bringing great damage, loss, or destruction; broadly: a sudden or great misfortune.” Sjoberg (1962) characterized disaster as a “severe, relatively sudden, and frequently unexpected disruption of a social system resulting from some precipitating event that is not subject to societal control” (p. 357). Additionally Haddow, Bullock, and Coppola (2008) define disaster as an “event that demands substantial crisis response requiring the use of governmental powers and resources beyond the scope of one line agency or service” (p. 27). Regardless of the definition, researchers have long studied the effects that disasters have on people, communities, and organizations. Examples of disaster research include: research in the 1950s on the social context of the Cold War (Fritz & Marks, 1954); research studies of bush fire disasters (Wettenhall, 1975); Perry, Lindell, and Greene’s (1981) flood research; research on social change under disaster conditions (Fischer, 2003); and research on organizations struck by disaster (Tierney, Nigg, & Dahlhamer, 1996). This research studied organizational resilience to better enhance an organization’s ability to respond to disasters.

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