Crisis management or crisis response system? A complexity science approach to organizational crises

Crisis response system

Overall summary

The organizational studies show that complexity in management have been there from long ago in organizations, thus complexity thinking have always been used and it is not a modern phenomenon.

In this article, Paraskevas (2006) tries to show ways on how to formulate a crisis management plan that “consists of a full range of thoughtful processes and steps that anticipate the complex nature of crises and is built upon rational expectations about how a crisis will manifest itself and how the organization will respond to it.”

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The case study provides insight information on crises management facilitating understanding of the organization’s behavior proving them as complex systems. According to the case study, the complexity applications in businesses largely remain at a theoretical level from the fact that this field is still on development stage.

The upcoming researches are focusing their application on specific fields such as organizational learning, supply chain and logistics, organizations of health care, change in management and other management topics, management of knowledge and innovation as well as management of small businesses among other sectors.

This research article shows that an elaborate Crisis Management Plan does not really guarantee an effective crisis management, but rather the management of the firm should perceive crises management as a living structure within the firm and facilitate it to achieve its objectives. The system should not be driven by a particular aim agent’s behaviors and reactions but at the collective sturdiness and resilience of the firm.

It should state the terms of engagement among its numerous agents but not influence their decisions. Paraskevas (2006) also takes a look at the topic of crisis situations and argues that instead of focusing on organizational crises, more emphasis has been projected to other forms of crisis. Thus, failure to plan for crisis has made organizations more prone and has seen progression of crisis level from controllable stage to uncontrollable.

Key learning points

Some of key learning points include:

Planning for crisis
Stages of crisis
Causes of crisis
Consequences of crisis
Cautions of crisis
Traditional approach on crisis management
New approach to crisis management
Complexity-informed framework for effective crisis response (Polkinghorne 1988).

Statements of agreement and disagreement

“The impact of crisis is not tied to the organization where the crisis occurs but has repercussions to connected organizations.” This statement is true because at any give instance of crisis occurrence, both the organization involved and other connected ones such as suppliers and consumers feel the impact of the crisis.

When a crisis occurs, changes are implemented which affects both the inputs and outputs of the organization. Accordingly, the suppliers are face with change in quantity to supply, which is mostly characterized by decrease, and the consumers are face with reduction of organization’s production accompanied by higher prices.

“Crisis response is a complex- co-evolving system.” I agree with this statement because the processes of self-organization may result to new order situation which will result into crisis requiring different responses.

The fact that some responses were effective to some crisis does not mean that they will to other crisis. This is so because the crises are not predictable and their differences calls for different forms of responses. Diverse situation require diverse responses at each time of crisis occurrence. “A uniform response in all properties is strongly desirable.”

I disagree with this statement because as discussed earlier crisis level show different properties. Accordingly, this shows that no one or similar responses will succeed in dealing with the situation since these different properties call for different responses. For example, prepared of responses of a crisis such as disease outbreak will be completely futile in a terrorism or attack crisis. Therefore, a uniform response in all properties may not be required (Pascale et al 2000).

Critical Analysis

As the article puts it, today’s organizational environment which is incorporated by discontinuity as well as continuous change, crises have become as a norm rather than organizational exception. At any given time an organization is at crisis or at prodromal stage with fluxes which gradually amplify to crisis.

As the situation intensifies, the organization loses its equilibrium and the situation moves to an acute level where disorders in the organization ooze out. However during this stage the organization is able to act as an island of order in a sea of disorder where the structure of the organization is able to hold together and scatter the fluxes impacts.

According to the article researcher the hotel employs strategies which hold the situation such as calling for treatment to all affected staffs; ensuring media does not disseminate the information to the public and substantial sum of compensation to avoid legal actions. At this stage, the crisis becomes a driver; driving the organization in a particular direction.

As a result, the organization is forced to operate under different set of governing principles. The article also indicates that paper work strategies of response to situation as unnecessary because they tend to focus on expected crisis though crisis are unpredictable (Plsek and Wilson 2001).

Learning outcomes

Understanding crisis response as a complex system is helpful in dealing with real cases. This will enable a clear focus on what crisis plans and tools will likely accomplish.

Accordingly one can be able to respond to the crisis before it reaches to an acute level. This can be done by covering the dents caused by the crisis and at the same time preventing it from progressing forward. Although there may be no definite way of dealing effectively with crisis, the article has provided identifiable crisis response weakness and ways of overcoming them.

It is important for an organization to view a crisis response as a living system within an organization, rather than just a procedure. Accordingly the system will be able to accomplish its purpose of not only providing solutions but also providing conditions suitable in facilitating multiple solutions to problems. In a complex science, the system provides diverse and flexible responses based on the conditions of the crisis (Fink 1986).

Reference list

Fink, S. (1986). Crisis Management: Planning for the Inevitable. New York: American Management Association.

Paraskevas, A. (2006). Crisis management or crisis response system? A complexity science approach to organizational crises. Management Decision, Vol. 44, No. 7, pp. 892-907.

Pascale, R.T., Millemann, M. and Gioja, L. (2000). Surfing the Edge of Chaos. New York: Three Rivers Press.

Plsek, P.E. and Wilson, T. (2001). Complexity, leadership and management in healthcare organizations. British Medical Journal, Vol. 323, pp. 746-9.

Polkinghorne, D. (1988). Narrative Knowing and the Human Sciences. NY: State University of New York Press.

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