Readiness for Renewal

[We’re pleased to welcome authors Ryan P. Fuller of California State University, Sacramento, Robert R. Ulmer of the University of Nevada, Ashley McNatt of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, and Jeanette B. Ruiz of the University of California, Davis. They recently published an article in the Management Communication Quarterly entitled “Extending Discourse of Renewal to Preparedness: Construct and Scale Development of Readiness for Renewal,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, they briefly describe the motivations and innovations of this research.

What motivated you to pursue this research?

For over 20 years, the Discourse of Renewal has offered an alternative to theories focused on avoiding blame and repairing harm to reputations post-crisis. Some of the assumptions of the theory addressed pre-crisis elements through anecdotal evidence. Based on our research, pre-crisis preparedness is an understudied topic in crisis management. Researchers know a lot about how organizations communicate during crises and how they communicate about post-crisis recovery. As well, we knew that organizations should prepare for crises, but often focus on the day-to-day operations of running their businesses and not on what to do when a disaster or emergency strikes. We wanted to make it easier to take stock of communication practices that help the organization produce the type of post-crisis communication that will help them to return from the crisis better off than before. Consequently, we saw a great opportunity to address a gap in the research and to answer a real-world problem.

In what ways is your research innovative, and how do you think it will impact the field?

Our research draws on a large body of qualitative evidence that organizations are effective in recovery if they enact certain communication practices. The novelty of our project is the foregrounding of pre-crisis communication to provide the latent potential for a strong recovery. These pre-crisis communication practices have been evidenced anecdotally but not formally tested. The value added to the field of crisis communication covers two main areas. First, we see more applied and naturalistic research opportunities using survey research, including the readiness for renewal scale. Along these lines, with the scale we developed we can see more opportunities for interventions to produce the type of desirable post-crisis communication, and for researchers take a stand about what one should or ought to do rather than after it is too late. Applied researchers could help organizations identify best communication practices, reinforce those, and change poor practices. Second, we may see other scholars use the body of qualitative evidence to create quantitative measures to test discourse- and rhetoric-based theories in crisis communication.

What advice would you give to new scholars and incoming researchers in this particular field of study?

We have three pieces of advice for new scholars and incoming researchers in crisis communication. First, crisis communication is a growing field, yet one that remains dominated by perspectives focused on threat, image repair, and blame avoidance. We encourage researchers to focus on developing/testing theories that are resiliency generating and identify inherent opportunities in all stages of crisis management. Second, we believe that anticipatory perspectives will continue to be an important line of research, and researchers should draw attention to effective communication practices in the pre-crisis stage. Third, we encourage researchers in crisis communication to test the limits of crisis communication theories. Such testing could occur through different methods, populations, or through applying/expanding the theory to different stages of crisis management.

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Book Review: Organizational Resilience: How Learning Sustains Organizations in Crisis, Disaster, and Breakdowns

Organizational Resilience Cover

D. Christopher Kayes: Organizational Resilience: How Learning Sustains Organizations in Crisis, Disaster, and Breakdowns. New York: Oxford University Press, 2015. 171 pp. $59.95, hardcover.

Karl E. Weick of Ross School of Business recently reviewed the book in Administrative Science Quarterly. From the review:

Kayes has been a long-time, articulate student of experiential learning (e.g., 2002) and of dramatic instances when such learning falls short (e.g., 2004). Those strengths are evident again in this volume. The argument is developed along two dimensions: the environment is either routine or novel, and the operational orientation is either performance or learning. Of special interest are those situations in which a performance orientation in a routine environment shifts abruptly or gradually toward a requirement for ASQ_v60n4_Dec2015_cover.indda learning orientation in a novel environment. These shifts are often incomplete because factors such as preoccupation with goals, unwarranted optimism, and rational decision making make experiential learning more difficult and reinforce a performance orientation.

The author argues that many models of organizational failure (e.g., Janis, 1972; Reason, 1990; Perrow, 1999) are inadequate because they ignore how failing masks breakdowns and recoveries of learning. Because learning is a ‘‘naturally occurring process,’’ disruptions of that ongoing process contribute to disasters and make them worse.

You can read the full review from Administrative Science Quarterly by clicking here. Like what you read? Click here to sign up for e-alerts and have all the research and reviews like this sent directly to your inbox!

How Important is Self-Managing Leadership for Crisis Management?

Crises are common in the modern world and the value system of leaders plays a crucial role in effectively managing a crisis. The article “Role of Self-managing Leadership in Crisis Management: An Empirical Study on the Effectiveness of Rajayoga” explores the role of self-managing leadership in crisis management. The topic is particularly pertinent because many crisis management blunders can be attributed to leadership failures, and in the context of business, lack of effective crisis management has led to downfall of many businesses.

IIM Journal CoverCrises can be generalized along a spectrum—on one end, you have individual crises, and on the other end, you have global crises. However, in all cases, it is individuals who have to provide leadership, whether it be for individual crises, organizational crises, or global crises.

In rapidly changing times, the challenge to an organization is to provide a framework for people to understand their journey through change so they can contribute their best work to the organization. In order to act as a leader or an agent of change within an organization, employees must be able to bring about significant change within their organization. The rate of external environmental change is inexplicably linked to self-management—as changes increase, self-management becomes more important. Because it is hardly possible to control the external environment, emphasis has shifted towards managing the inner environment and harnessing resources within an organization. The future of an organization rests on the autonomy, maturity and confidence of the people. Many employees are trained with particular technical and functional-oriented skills, and later promoted on the basis of those skills. However,sign-success-and-failure-1133804-m those skills primarily prepare employees to work in a relatively stable environment, not in a rapidly changing and at times chaotic environment. Thus, the skills necessary for employees now are those that help employees lead through a never-ending process of change.

The abstract:

Crises are common in the modern world and the value system of leaders plays a crucial role in effectively managing the crises. The role of self-managing leadership in crisis management is explored in this article. An empirical study is conducted to understand the effectiveness of the ancient self-management technique called Rajayoga. It is based on a sample survey among two groups—one group not practicing Rajayoga and the other group practicing Rajayoga. It is found that the inner powers and innate values have a positive correlation with crises management capabilities. Further, these capabilities and correlations are found to be stronger in a group of people practicing Rajayoga for self-empowerment. The relationship between inner powers and innate values, the interactivity and proactivity among the inner powers, the relationship between the ‘doing’ powers and the ‘being’ powers are also confirmed through the study.

You can read “Role of Self-managing Leadership in Crisis Management: An Empirical Study on the Effectiveness of Rajayoga” from IIM Kozhikode Society & Management Review free for the next two weeks by clicking here. Want to know about all the latest research from IIM Kozhikode Society & Management Review? Click here to sign up for e-alerts!

Paul Shrivastava on Crisis Management

We are delighted to welcome Dr. Paul Shrivastava to the Journal of Management Education podcast. Dr. Shrivastava is the David O’Brien Distinguished Professor of Sustainable Enterprise at the John Molson School of Business, Concordia University, Montreal. He also serves as Senior Advisor on sustainability at Bucknell University and the Indian Institute of Management-Shillong, India, and he serves on the Board of Trustees of DeSales University, Allentown, Pennsylvania. He has over 25 years experience in pullquotemanagement education, entrepreneurship, and as a consultant to major multinational corporations.

Dr. Shrivastava, along with co-authors Ian Mitroff of the University of California, Berkeley and    CJME_72ppiRGB_150pixWan M. Alpaslan of California State University, Northridge, published “Imagining an Education in Crisis Management” in the Journal of Management Education February 2013 Special Issue on Crisis Management Education. He joined guest editor Debra Comer of Hofstra University on the JME podcast to provide further insights. Click here to play or download the podcast interview or subscribe on iTunes by following this link.

Debra_ComerDebra R. Comer is a Professor of Management in the Zarb School of Business at Hofstra University. She received her B.A. with honors in psychology from Swarthmore College and her M.A., M. Phil., and Ph.D. in organizational behavior from Yale University. Her current research interests include ethical behavior in organizations, on-line learning, crisis management education, and the use of popular culture in management education. She previously served as an Associate Editor of JME.

Managing Musically: How Acoustic Space Informs Management Practice

Why is a management team like a symphony orchestra?

It’s not a riddle, it’s an article published in the ever-inquisitive Journal of Management Inquiry by Ralph J. Bathurst of Massey University and Lloyd P. Williams of the Whitecliffe College of Arts and Design:

This article explores the notion of management as an acoustic phenomenon and approaches this through examining musical performance, especially how symphony orchestra musicians develop musicianship, achieve ensemble, and work together in relationship with the conductor. We explore these ideas under the rubric of “managing musically” and offer as a comparison Captain Holly Graf being relieved of her position commanding the U.S.S. Cowpens. Managing musically implies becoming sensitized to gestural nuances within the environment and among team members.

Click here to read on and here for the latest articles from the Journal of Management Inquiry. You can also sign up for e-alerts here to be notified about new research from the journal.

Imagining an Education in Crisis Management

In a must-read for business educators, Paul Shrivastava of Concordia University and ICN Business School, Ian Mitroff of the University of California, Berkeley, and Can M. Alpaslan of California State University, Northridge provided their expertise on crisis management for the Journal of Management Education:

Understanding crises and developing crisis management skills have never been more important. We are living in a crisis society, in which all our major systems seem engulfed in crises. We live in the eye of a “perfect storm” of the global climate crisis, the global financial crisis, and the global poverty crisis, all of which interact with one another and various local crises to worsen their effects on all stakeholders. Students need to learn to think about crises in rational–analytical ways, develop and cope with emotional and intuitive feelings about crises, and resolve crisis conflicts morally and aesthetically.

Read on in the Journal of Management Education, and click here to learn more about the journal.

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After the Tsunami Scare: Crisis and Disaster Management Perspectives

Although it stirred panic, this week’s 8.6-magnitude earthquake off the Indonesian coast did not cause a tsunami. It did serve as a successful test of the warning systems put in place after 2004’s devastating tsunami in South Asia–underscoring the importance of disaster preparedness at all levels.

In today’s post, we highlight three articles that explore crisis and disaster management, including a study on perceived organizational preparedness for coping with a major crisis or disaster; a look at how organizational leaders can better understand their environments so as to avoid such events, and develop plans to cope with them if they do occur; and an exploration of crisis preparedness focused on the U.S. tourism industry.

We hope you find this selection insightful and thought-provoking.

Karen L. Fowler, Nathan D. Kling, and Milan D. Larson, all of the Monfort College of Business

Organizational Preparedness for Coping With a Major Crisis or Disaster

Business & Society (March 2007)


Jason B. Moats of Texas Engineering Extension Service, Thomas J. Chermack of Colorado State University, and Larry M. Dooley of Texas A&M University

Using Scenarios to Develop Crisis Managers: Applications of Scenario Planning and Scenario-Based Training

Advances in Developing Human Resources (June 2008)


Lori Pennington-Gray, Brijesh Thapa, Kyriaki Kaplanidou, Ignatius Cahyanto, and Elaine McLaughlin, all of the University of Florida, Gainesville

Crisis Planning and Preparedness in the United States Tourism Industry

Cornell Hospitality Quarterly (August 2011)


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