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Organizing after Crisis

The Challenge of Learning

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Edited By Nathalie Schiffino, Laurent Taskin, Céline Donis and Julien Raone

How do actors organize after crisis? Do they «simply» return to normal? The post-crisis phase is anything but a linear process. Actors and their practices may be transformed by learning from crises and by implementing the lessons.
In this volume, 19 contributors from 7 countries analyse how learning happens after crisis in a dynamic political environment where framings, strategies, discourses, interests and resources interact. Exploring various policy sectors, they ask whether and in what ways organizations in charge of crisis management perform well. Where political responsibility is located? What changes do lessons trigger at political, organizational and individual levels? The book answers these questions by addressing issues like blame and responsibility but also the influence of communication, social dynamics and the institutional environment.
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Chapter 3: Learning: Beyond the ideals of mindful learning. Generating actionable strategies for crisis management from organizational knowledge

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CHAPTER 3

Learning: Beyond the ideals of mindful learning

Generating actionable strategies for crisis management from organizational knowledge

Shari VEIL

University of Kentucky, USA

“A common cliché echoed in crisis response analysis is “hindsight is 20/20.” The warning signals that lead to a crisis are obvious after a crisis has occurred. So if warning signals of an impending crisis are evident, why are they, in most cases, not seen in time to prevent a crisis?” (Veil, 2011, p. 116)

Organizational crisis has been likened to the notion of recalcitrance (Veil, 2011). Recalcitrance is a point in which our perceived reality is contradicted by an experience (Burke, 1954). Once recalcitrance occurs we can never go back to the way we saw the world before the experience. The warning signals that lead to a crisis can suddenly be seen after the crisis because we reframe information through the lens of the crisis. Weick (1993) describes this point as a cosmology episode. In this dumbstruck moment all we can think is “I’ve never been here before, I have no idea where I am, and I have no idea who can help me” (Weick, 1993). A crisis cannot simply be ignored like the warning signals, small failures, and near misses that likely lead to the manifestation of the crisis. Experiencing a crisis changes our view of the world. Following crisis, resistance to change is diminished and strategies that...

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