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What factors cultivate organizational resilience?

Over the last two and a half decades, unexpected disruptions to business operations such as the terrorist attacks of 9/11, the financial crises, and the COVID-19 pandemic, have made organizational resilience a critical strategic focus for businesses (Kwiecień et al., 2023, p. 318) and has resulted in an exponential increase in academic research on the topic of organizational resilience (Linnenluecke, 2017, p. 7). The purpose of organization resilience, according to Bartusevicience et al. (2023), is to not only survive business disruptions and crises but to also successfully adapt to the new environment and establish a competitive advantage (p. 212). As defined by Duchek (2020), an organization is resilient when it can identify, anticipate, and adequately respond to unexpected changes and threats while also continuing to learn and adapt after a disruption has occurred (p. 220). Or, to put it more simply, organizational resilience is an entity’s ability to “bounce back” and achieve either normal or improved operations after a disruption. In today’s environment, organizational disruptions can consist of such things as economic instability, acts of terrorism, natural disasters, or major technological disruptions (Linnenluecke, 2017, p. 7). Despite the increased interest in this topic, the literature remains inconclusive as to what constitutes and cultivates organizational resilience (Duchek, 2020, p. 215) or how organizational resilience can best be operationalized (Zubair et al., 2019, p. 3).

Organizations face increasingly complex and unpredictable threats to continued operations in the current environment, making organizational resilience a strategic requirement for continued survival (Williams et al., 2017, p. 733). With expanding globalization and interconnectedness, as well as business environments becoming more volatile and chaotic, the vulnerability of organizations has significantly increased (Quadraogo & Boyer, 2012, p. 202). While a scan of current academic literature on organizational resilience demonstrates that organizations who successfully defend themselves against unplanned disruptions often demonstrate and emphasize unique characteristics as a part of their normal business activity during non-crises times (Kantur & Iseri-say, 2012, p. 762) these characteristics have never been clearly identified at the organizational level (Linnenluecke, 2017, p. 7). As described by Manyena (2006), organizational resilience can only be a practical and useable concept if the variables by which is it determined are identified (p. 434).


            The Rapid Evidence Assessment (REA) that serves as the foundation of this blogpost, arrived at the following findings when investigating the factors that constitute organizational resilience:

  • A unified culture with a shared purpose and a continuous learning mindset will cultivate resilience at the organizational level. This means that organizations must establish a culture that emphasizes the unity of their purpose, or aligning strategies with organizational goals, and a continual learning attitude, or ongoing growth and expansion of thought, within their organizations to optimize organizational resilience  Limphaibool et al. (2022) referred to this as collective organizational mindfulness which “enhances the ability to plan and adapt behaviors to unanticipated environments” in an organization-level context (p. 56).

  • Organizations must contain individuals who possess and exercise situational awareness and openness to new ideas. Individuals within the organization, both leaders and employees, must display and demonstrate keen situational awareness, or an ability to detect and anticipate critical events, and a sense of openness and willingness to adjust to new processes, perspectives, and opinions for organizational resilience to be optimized.

  • Organizations must place value relationships building and employee well-being. The human connection between employees and leadership, including sharing personal motivation and obstacles, sharing positive emotions, and displaying courage, rational thinking, vulnerability, and flexibility, is critical to establishing organizational resilience. Istiqaroh et al. (2022) refers to this human connection as “positive psychological capital” and cite individual feelings of hope, confidence, and self-efficacy as being important employee needs that must be met to optimize organizational resilience (p. 457).

Implications for Practice

Based on these findings, there are two recommendations for practitioners.

Recommendation 1: Deliberately cultivate a culture that fosters resilience.

            A culture of resilience consists of a shared vision and purpose, a continuous learning mindset, and an openness to communication and diverse opinions and ideas. To accomplish this, managers must nurture the development of their resilience culture by demonstrating a solution-focused mindset and modeling genuine engagement in their behavior. Further, a resilience culture will require continuous effort both by individual employees and by leadership teams to ensure it becomes entrenched within the organizational identity. However, it is important to note that all leaders and employees can learn and develop behaviors to establish a culture of resilience with the right direction. It is recommended that the following four cultural factors be addressed:

o   Development of a growth mindset:  Leaders should design and implement continuous learning strategies for employees and leadership at all levels of the organization. This learning should address technical competencies and cross-training as well as “soft skills” such as critical thinking, problem-solving, and leading effective teams.

o   Expansion of emotional intelligence:  Leaders should develop and make available resources that will equip individuals with improved personal skills such as self/situational awareness, motivation, empathy, and interpersonal social skills.

o   Effective communication: Effective communication, executed in multiple mediums, was found to build resilience within an organization by increasing employee flexibility, openness, and group cohesion. Communication was also found to assist with recovery and employee coping efforts during a disruption.

o   Creation of psychological safety: Establishing a shared vision as well as a culture of learning, will build trust within your organization and enable individuals to think creatively and collaboratively to identify innovative solutions.

Recommendation 2: Prioritize employee well-being and genuine relationship building.

Prioritizing employee well-being and developing genuine relationships will serve to defend the organization against unforeseen disruptions. A satisfied, motivated, and educated employee workforce is critical in establishing resilience and more importantly, exerting resilience and resultant adaption during a disruption. It is recommended that the following three factors be addressed:

o   Two-way vulnerability: genuine, two-way conversations between leadership and employees will increase trust and feelings of psychological safety. This type of communication requires honesty, empathy, and patience.

o   Cultivate employee self-efficacy: This can be done by providing honest feedback and positive recognition, mentorship, role modeling, and goal setting.

o   Hope, courage, and pride in work: Hope and courage can be fostered through matching employee responsibilities with strengths and encouraging employees to take risks in proposing new ideas and making mistakes while learning. A celebration of the end goal or final product will serve to develop pride in the work role, further solidifying the resilient culture.


Bartusevicience, I. Rakauskiene, O. G., Valackiene, A. (2023). Assessing the resilience of organizations in the context of uncertainty. Measuring Business Excellence, 27(2), 211- 226.

Chen, R., Lui, Y., & Zhou, F. (2021). Turning danger into safety: The origin, research context and theoretical framework of organizational resilience. IEEE Access, 9, 48899-48913.

Duchek, S. (2020). Organizational resilience: a capability-based conceptualization. Business Research, 13(1), 215-246.

Godwin, I., Amah, E. (2013). Knowledge management and organizational resilience in Nigerian manufacturing organizations. Developing Country Studies, 3(9), p. 104-120.

Istiqaroh, C. R., Usman, I., Harjanti, D. (2022). How do leaders build organizational resilience? An empirical literature review. Journal of Theoretical and Applied Management, 15(3), 449-462.

Kantur, D, & Iseri-say, A. (2012). Organizational resilience: A conceptual integrative framework. Journal of Management & Organization 18(6), 762-773. organization/article/abs/organizational-resilience-a-conceptual-integrative- framework/401A8C338374FDBCAA91436DE221CD3B

Kwiecień, A., Janiszewski, A., & Olejko, K. (2023). Resources and organizational resilience. Scientific Papers of Silesian University of Technology. Organization & Management, 181, 317-339.

Linnenluecke, M. K. (2017). Resilience in business and management research: A review of influential publications and a research agenda. International Journal of Management Reviews 19, 4-30.

Limphaibool, W., Buranapin, S., Jariangprasert, N. & Chaiprasit, K. (2022). Collective mindfulness and organizational resilience in times of crises. Change Management: An International Journal, 22(2), 49-60.

Manyena, S. B. (2006). The concept of resilience revisited. Disasters, 30(4), 434-450.

Quadraogo, A., & Boyer, M. (2012). Firm governance and organizational resiliency in a crisis context: A case study of a small research-based venture enterprise. International Business Research, 5(12), 119-121.

Williams, T. A., Gruber, K. M., Sutcliffe, D. A., Shepherd, and Zhao, E. Y. (2017). Organizational response to adversity: Fusing crisis management and resilience research streams. Academy of Management Annals 11(2), 733–769.

Zubair, T., Khan, A., Farooq, W., & Rasheed, H. (2019). Organizational Resilience: A Dynamic Capability of Complex Systems. Journal of Management and Research, 6(1), 1-26.

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I find this very interesting and am drawn to read your full REA. The idea of creating a resilient culture is intriguing to me. My company is very interested in culture right now and thinking about ways to create a desirable culture is something I am considering for future research.



Great post, Danyelle. Love the title. Please continue to share this with a summary article on LinkedIn, and maybe at other open source sites. Good luck, Dr. Bob

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