9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN08 Disaster and Social Crisis

2009-09-04 13:30:00 2009-09-04 15:00:00 Friday, 4 September 13:30 - 15:00 Maintaining Safety in the Risk Society Building AA, AA.226

Continuity of Services during Disasters: Innovative Organizational Adaptive Behaviours

A critical test of a society facing a disaster is the ability to maintain continuity of services in both the private and public sector. Unfortunately, little research exists that has examined the underlying organizational processes that enhance organizational continuity. We examine this process by focusing on innovative adaptive behaviors of both managers and employees in work organizations during a human made ongoing disaster. By doing so we were able to predict conditions facilitating an organization's ability to maintain operational continuity. Building on theories of organizational and disaster behavior, we examined evidence acquired from thirteen public and private work organizations that underwent the 2006 Katyusha rocket bombardment of Northern Israel for over a three week period. A field study accompanied by interviews, structured questionnaires and external sources of financial/production data formed the basis for the analysis. The results support the notion that organizational response to a disaster includes a process of internal innovative behavioral adaptation to new and changing conditions. On the one hand, the organization's managers react according to their values, culture and past experience. The day-to-day operations, however, are maintained as employees' adapt their own behavior to the changing demands of the situation. The analysis further shows that although plans, drills and emergency regulations are important for performance behaviors during the emergency, it was employees' innovative adaptive behaviors that contributed to maintaining organizational continuity. These adaptive work behaviors depended on a series of social process predictors such as their past experience, family and community attitudes and social networks at the workplace. The findings support the notion that innovative adaptive behaviors are critical within organizations for maintaining organizational continuity. They also strongly suggest such adaptive behaviors during a crisis form one of the fundamental social mechanisms for organizational change.