Edited by Andrew J. DuBrin
Chapter 15: Organizational learning from crisis
This chapter explores the concepts of crisis, leadership and learning. It takes a critical glance at research, opinion and advice from the interdisciplinary field of crisis management studies. Analysts using literature from the nascent field of crisis management studies as a point of departure, tend to look at a crisis as a series of interconnected challenges presented to leaders of firms, agencies or organizational units. Under conditions of uncertainty, complexity, time pressure and threats to core values, leaders are expected to make sense of unfolding events, make and implement strategic decisions, clarify complex issues of accountability and mandates, and convey meaning to these processes in internal and external communication (Boin, ‘t Hart, Stern and Sundelius, 2005). When management of the crisis is approaching termination, leaders find themselves playing an important role in the return to normalcy. Apart from managing the present crisis, leaders are also expected to prevent crisis repetition. Amidst hazardous, uncertain and stressful conditions, then, leaders need to notice and reflect upon lessons enabling them to prevent future crises, and at a later stage make sure that these lessons are implemented throughout their organizations (Deverell and Olsson, 2009). Learning from crisis experience thus becomes a core task and demanding challenge for any leader.
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