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← Leadership Development TheoriesFinal Assignment - Change and Crisis Management →
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High Reliability Organizations and Resilience

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Complexity has different impacts on both high reliability organizations and resilience. According to Bigely and Roberts (2001), organizations face several crises, which may hinder their normal operations. They stated that most fire departments use incident command system to deal with organizational complexity, because they face unpredictable, hazardous and dynamic working conditions. They argued that it was important for high flexibility organizations to deal with complexity, since they have to exhibit error-free operations, despite being faced with crisis situations. They suggested that these organizations should consider adopting bureaucratic structures in order to deal with complexity (Bigley and Roberts, 2001). Adopting this structure would help high reliability organizations exhibit rapid structural variations in order to respond to situational contingencies.

They also proposed that managers of high reliability organization should consider adopting the concept of platform that was designed by Ciborra in order to deal with the issue of organizational complexity. Using this concept, managers are able to deal with any unforeseen environmental situations, since they have the necessary resources of forming new combinations of structures in order to produce the desired matrix. Complexity also has an impact on resilience. According to Bigey and Roberts, organizations are faced with complex situations, which may cause organizational disintegration (Bigley and Roberts, 2001). In addition, most organizations have strict and ineffective organizational cultures, and this has a negative impact on their ability to retain operations, despite being faced with a crisis.

Comfort, Sungu, Johnson and Dunn (2001) also showed how complexity affects high reliability organizations and their resilience. They argued that it was important for organizations to practice self-reorganization in order to remain highly reliable and resilient. They stated that organizations needed to do four things in order to deal with complexity, such as: viewing disaster as a mechanism of change; reframing disaster as an evolving policy process; coordinating in self-organizing systems; viewing local conditions as governing elements in evolving disaster response systems (Comfort, Sungu, Johnson and Dunn, 2001). In order for organizations to view disaster as a mechanism for change, their management needs to see disasters as a product of interacting and cumulative decisions between different groups and people. In addition, managers need to ensure timely flow of all the information needed for quick decision-making in order to deal accurately with all potential crises.

If an organization wants to reframe disaster as an evolving policy process in order for it to be resilient, it needs to assess accurately the particulars of any crisis that may affect it. Furthermore, it needs to consider the option of using a decision support system, since this system helps the manager understand the dynamic nature of a disaster that his organization may face. Managers also need to understand all the local conditions surrounding a particular complex situation in order to avoid any adverse effects that may originate from this crisis. According to Comfort, Sungu Johnson and Dunn (2001), managers can achieve high reliability of their organizations, if they understand the complexity of interacting scientific, political, social and economic conditions and know how to adequately manage these factors. Managers also need to ensure effective coordination between different organization participants, in order to solve complex organization problems that may affect the resilience of an organization.

Using the work of Kaplan (2008), explore how the two processes can be compatible and how they can undermine each other.

The work of Kaplan (2008) can be used to show how the two processes can be compatible and how these processes can undermine each other. Kaplan developed the framing contest model to explain why managers prefer to take particular decisions instead of taking other decisions. He argued that an organization could take inertial responses in order to deal with a particular crisis that it may be facing (Kaplan, 2008). Most inertia responses result from an organization being locked in existing frames and being unable to promote other frames in its processes. If an organization has a predominant collective frame, it may not respond to a change that may face it, since it will have outmoded model. However, he suggested that organizations should consider several adaptations in order to deal with inertia responses. He added that organizations could consider an option of firing managers, who do not promote new frames in their organizations. Furthermore, managers could consider promoting autonomous decision-making at different levels of their organizations (Kaplan, 2008). This will help in ensuring that alternative frames are present in an organization. Resilience and high reliability can only be achieved if organizations promote multiple frames, thus allowing managers to make different decisions. However, if an organization adopts inertial responses, these processes can undermine each other, since managers will not be willing to change their processes in order to promote organizational growth during a crisis.

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