Erica Seville speaking on Community Resilience

During an APEC Supply Chain Resilience workshop last year, a series of TED-style talks were recorded, including ResOrgs' Erica Seville speaking on community resilience, and this is now available to view online.

A Primer in Resiliency: Seven Principles for Managing the Unexpected

This is a well worth a read for all those interested in building resilience in their organisation. The full article has been temporarily released to the general public until 31 May 2017.

Learn about the seven principles of resiliency, with practical suggestions for implementing each one, along with examples of companies that have managed to improve their operational effectiveness, even in time of crisis, by putting these precepts into practice.

Read full article

New PhD Opportunity at University of Canterbury

A new PhD scholarship is available in the Department of Civil and Natural Resources Engineering at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand.  The PhD topic is "Quantitative System Dynamics Modelling of Organisational Health and Resilience of Infrastructure Service Providers”.   Suitable candidates will have a background in one or more of systems dynamics modelling, engineering, management and social science; as well as having excellent written and verbal communication skills.  For applicants with professional experience there is also an opportunity to contribute to teaching within the department.

A link to lodge an application will be posted soon.  If you have any queries, please contact Professor Mark Milke, email:  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Interested in joining the ResOrgs team?

We are looking for a Research Communications and Writing Assistant to join us.

 Resilient Organisations Ltd., a small research and consulting firm based at the University of Canterbury, is looking for a part-time writing assistant to collaborate on a variety of science communication projects. The assistant’s primary tasks will include working with Resilient Organisations’ researchers on the production of reports, journal articles, and presentations. Such tasks will necessarily include document proofreading, formatting, and the preparation and refinement of figures and graphics. We will also expect that the assistant spends time familiarising him or herself with the research and writing of Resilient Organisations’ researchers.

 The ideal candidate will have a research background and proven experience of publishing in an academic or government research context.  

 Fixed-term: March 1, 2017-May 31, 2017 (with the potential for renewal)

Hours: 10 hours minimum, up to 20 hours per week during busy periods

Remuneration: $20-40/ hour depending on experience.


  • Graduate level tertiary degree or equivalent work experience in a research role.
  • Proven track record of publication and/or report preparation.
  • Able to attend in-person Tuesday meetings on the University of Canterbury Ilam campus.
  • Able to provide own computer and workspace.

 The candidate should be personable, able to effectively communicate with Resilient Organisations’ researchers, and interested in resilience, business, and/or systems-research.  

 How to apply:

Please contact Dr. Joanne Stevenson by email ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ). In your email attach:

  • A cover letter of no more than 1 page of A4;
  • You full curriculum vitae;
  • The contact details of two referees;
  • Two or three examples of your best written work.

Applications close February 22, 2017.

Chips-and-Salsa Standard for Exercises

This is a very readable article from Nathaniel Forbes, Forbes Calamity Prevention - well worth a read for all those involved in running table top exercises and emergency planning exercises.


Could you – would you? – run a table top exercise at a conference for participants who had no crisis management experience? Would you choose cocktail hour to try?

I did. It was fun. And instructive.

I usually run table top exercises the way you probably do: assemble those responsible for executing an existing plan in a room; show some slides to set the scene; use a Master Event List (MEL) to manage ‘injects’ or ‘drips’ (event developments); coach a few role players; facilitate a ‘hot wash’ afterward to collect reactions; follow-up with a few pages of sagacious recommendations. And an invoice.

In a professional exercise, participants already know their roles and responsibilities. They don’t expect instructions; they expect challenges.

The sixty (60) players in this exercise, however, were disaster researchers letting their academic credentials down at the end of a three-day conference. The organizer’s objective was to give participants “a feel for what a table top exercise is like”, warning me that “very few” of them had ever participated in one. Each worked at a different educational institution, and so had no common plan or frame-of-reference. Some worked outside the U.S., so English language proficiency was also a challenge.

I spent a lot of time considering scenarios, but all had the same, fatal flaw: none of the participants would have any idea how to respond unless I told them how. How could that be done 90 minutes? Over vodka-and-tonics?

Struggling as the date of the event crept up, I talked with Dr. Robert Kay at Incept Labs in Australia who offered a simple, blinding insight:

“It’s not an exercise. It’s entertainment.”

Continue reading full article

Rural Resilience PhD Scholarship Opportunity

Applications are invited for a fully-funded 3-year doctoral scholarship, focusing on rural resilience in New Zealand. Based at the University of Canterbury, this PhD research will form part of the Resilience to Nature’s Challenges programme (National Science Challenge), across both the Rural Priority Co-Creation Laboratory and the Economics toolbox. Resilience to Nature’s Challenges is a ten-year programme of research focussed on building New Zealand’s resilience to natural hazards including slow and rapid onset events (e.g. earthquakes, wild fire, volcanoes, climate change, drought). 

Find out more

December 2016 Newsletter

Read our latest newsletter online.  For those interesting in building resilience in their organisation, our December newsletter includes information about our latest Resilience Quickstart Guides and a couple of interesting blog posts from Erica Seville.

View newsletter 

QuakeCoRE Special Edition Newsletter

QuakeCoRE has put out a special edition newsletter providing a quick but timely glimpse at the 14 November 2016 M7.8 Kaikoura Earthquake, including its unique seismological features, its wide spread impacts from Northern Canterbury to Wellington, and an early view of the recovery trajectory.

View the newsletter

What makes a resilient organization?

There is no single formula for how to design a perfectly resilient organization. As resilience researchers, we have found that any organization can build resilience capabilities. Resilience is more a function of an orgnaization’s ability to access and utilize resources when it needs them, regardless of its size or structure. For example, large multinational corporations are often able to draw from a large pool of resources, which enables resilience to disruptions. Small businesses, on the other hand, have fewer resources, but if they are well networked and connected with other organizations, are also able to access a large pool of resources when required.

In organization’s resilience is drawn from its planned and adaptive capabilities. Organizations that invest in their planned resilience capabilities are able to sense change as it emerges, take action to minimize the downside risk, and to extract maximum upside. They are able to prevent many crises from ever occurring, and when crises do occur, they manage them responsively and effectively. However, planned resilience capabilities will only get an organization so far. No crisis ever fits the plan, and organizations inevitably need to find ways to adapt and evolve. Being both planned and adaptive is the key to resilience.

Resilience IndicatorsOver 10 years, our research programme Resilient Organizations has grown to involve more than 35 active researchers, bringing together people with diverse expertise, perspectives and ways of framing the organizational resilience challenge. We have identified 13 indicators to assess the resilience of an organization

No matter what type of organization, large or small, for-profit or not-for-profit, these 13 indicators of resilience apply.

  1. Leadership: Strong crisis leadership to provide good management and decision making during times of crisis, as well as continuous evaluation of strategies and work programs against organizational goals.
  2. Staff Engagement: The engagement and involvement of staff who understand the link between their own work, the organization's resilience, and its long term success. Staff are empowered and use their skills to solve problems.
  3. Situation Awareness: Staff are encouraged to be vigilant about the organization, its performance and potential problems. Staff are rewarded for sharing good and bad news about the organization including early warning signals and these are quickly reported to organizational leaders.
  4. Decision Making: Staff have the appropriate authority to make decisions related to their work and authority is clearly delegated to enable a crisis response. Highly skilled staff are involved, or are able to make, decisions where their specific knowledge adds significant value, or where their involvement will aid implementation.
  5. Innovation and Creativity: Staff are encouraged and rewarded for using their knowledge in novel ways to solve new and existing problems, and for utilising innovative and creative approaches to developing solutions.
  6. Effective Partnerships: An understanding of the relationships and resources the organization might need to access from other organizations during a crisis, and planning and management to ensure this access.
  7. Leveraging Knowledge: Critical information is stored in a number of formats and locations and staff have access to expert opinions when needed. Roles are shared and staff are trained so that someone will always be able to fill key roles.
  8. Breaking Silos: Minimisation of divisive social, cultural and behavioural barriers, which are most often manifested as communication barriers creating disjointed, disconnected and detrimental ways of working.
  9. Internal Resources: The management and mobilisation of the organization's resources to ensure its ability to operate during business as usual, as well as being able to provide the extra capacity required during a crisis.
  10. Unity of Purpose: An organization wide awareness of what the organization's priorities would be following a crisis, clearly defined at the organization level, as well as an understanding of the organization's minimum operating requirements.
  11. Proactive Posture: A strategic and behavioural readiness to respond to early warning signals of change in the organization's internal and external environment before they escalate into crisis.
  12. Planning Strategies: The development and evaluation of plans and strategies to manage vulnerabilities in relation to the business environment and its stakeholders.
  13. Stress Testing Plans: The participation of staff in simulations or scenarios designed to practice response arrangements and validate plans.

Within these 13 indicators, our team believes that some indicators are more potent than others. In my book, Resilient Organizations I take you through five key ingredients for creating a resilient organization.

What is a resilient organization and why is it important?

Organizational resilience is not just about minimizing and managing risk exposure; it is about creating organizations with the agility to adapt to unexpected challenges and the capacity to seize opportunity out of adversity. At some time during its life, every organization will face some form of disruptive crisis. Be it a natural disaster, a reputational crisis, problems within the supply chain, or an issue affecting its people; organizational crises happen more often than we think. Handled well, a crisis can be just a hiccup on your organization’s journey – but handled poorly, they have the ability to bring any organization to its knees.

TResiliencehese characteristics of resilient organizations don’t just pay dividends during times of crisis, they also lead to high performance during business-as usual environments. Resilient organizations:

  • understand the need to be able to change and adapt quickly, not just to crises but to any form of change happening in their world
  • foster innovation and creativity within their teams and encourage information and ideas to flow across the organization
  • work hard to ensure they have highly engaged and networked staff, and foster an environment of high trust.
  • invest in leadership throughout the organization and channel people’s efforts towards a clear purpose
  • actively develop partnerships and networks that they can both leverage in the day-to-day, and call on when they need to.

Our challenge for the 21st century is to create organizations that are future ready, with an inbuilt capacity to, not only weather the storms of change but to be able to thrive in such environments. Change and disruption don’t need to be negative – they can also be invigorating for an organization. Disruption can bring an injection of new skills and perspectives. Existential crises can lead an organization to re-evaluate its goals, take a fresh look at its operating environment, and find new opportunities to explore.

To be future ready we need organizations that proactively identify and manage the risks that can be anticipated but also invest in capabilities to cope with events that cannot be anticipated. We need organizations that are capable of sensing changes in their operating environment – organizations that can quickly grasp the implications of those changes and are agile and strategic in their response. These will be the organizations that thrive as change accelerates.

Why is it important? The drive for organizations to become more resilient is not just a selfish one to achieve profitability and longevity for the organization. There are significant community benefits to be gained. Organizations touch nearly every part of our lives. Organizations own, manage and maintain our critical infrastructure. They provide goods and services that residents want and need. They enable our economy to function, and provide both employment and gathering places that bring people together. If we can make our organizations more resilient they become better employers, they provide better goods and services to their customers, and they provide stability for communities during turbulent times. Creating more resilient organizations is a major step towards creating more resilient communities.

Kaikoura Earthquake Social Science Research Workshop

Create your own user feedback survey  

Congratulations to PhD Student, Rizwan Ahmad

Congratulations to Rizwan Ahmed on his presentation at the recent ANZAM (Australia and New Zealand Academy of Management) Conference in Brisbane, Australia.

His paper was titled "Supply Chain Resilience - An exploratory study on dairy sector", and was co-authored by Venkat Pulakanam, Mesbahuddin Chowdhury, and John Vargo.

The paper explores how recent increase in disruptive events, coupled with complex and geographically dispersed supply chains, has led the practitioners and academicians to develop strategies to ensure the continuity of operations against any disruption. A resilient supply chain offers a strong shield against anydisruption and provides adaptive ability to adjust accordingly. However, an empirical investigation that classifies the resilience factors according to various phases of a disruption is yet to be established (Hohenstein, Feisel, Hartmann, & Giunipero, 2015). This study has adopted the case study methodology to take an in-depth analysis of various supply chain partners in the dairy sector. Using disaster recovery lifecycle, this research empirically investigates the linkage of key resilience factors to different phases of the disruption.

Scholarship Opportunities

There are several new opportunities for students interested in studying in the area of resilience. Check out our Scholarship Opportunities page for current graduate student scholarship opportunities available.

How do we make resilience investment decisions?

On the 31 August, ResOrgs ran a workshop at on this topic at QuakeCoRE’s first annual meeting.  In the beautiful surrounds of Taupo, participants were asked to think about seismic resilience by using a decision support tool developed as part of our work with QuakeCoRE. Seismic resilience in this project is described by the QuakeCoRE vision of reducing earthquake impacts and improving the recovery capabilities of thriving communities.

Our prototype decision support tool was developed based on principles from multi-criteria decision analysis, deep uncertainty, and future scenarios.  The groups were asked to consider the relative strengths and trade-offs of a group of projects under different future conditions – business as usual, accelerated climate change, and the loss of earthquake insurance availability.

Seismic resilienceSeismic resilience can be developed in a number of ways. But with limited resources we need to make trade-offs between projects that contribute to seismic resilience and the prototype decision support tool used in the workshop offered a systematic way of indicating some of the trade-offs and co-benefits between projects. Graphics and matrixes were used to display the scores between projects as a result of decisions made by participants during the scenario:

The workshop and tool created lively discussion about preferences, priorities, and outcomes. The results showed a shift towards more holistic thinking about how to best spend resources when the aim is seismic resilience. Participants were very positive about the experience, noting that the scoring and weighting system served as a good basis for discussion on the trade-offs involved in making investment decisions.

Refinement and testing of this tool is ongoing.  If you would like to know more, contact Bob Kipp ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ) or Erica Seville ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ).

Call for Scholarship Applications

Developing Software-based Solutions and Infrastructures for Community Resilience Assessment

Resilience across all sectors of society is imperative for global efforts to reduce the adverse effects of disasters and to build a society that is change-ready and seeking opportunities for future wellbeing. Building robust pathways toward resilience begins with assessment: gathering empirical evidence of what factors enhance resilience, under what contexts, and for which shocks; benchmarking a community’s capacities, and monitoring resilience over time. The Resilience Trajectories work stream of New Zealand’s Resilience to Nature’s Challenges research programme is interested in exploring innovative, software-based solutions to robust resilience assessment.

Applications are now invited for those wishing to pursue a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) by thesis addressing key challenges related to information and software technology in the field of disaster resilience assessment. The successful candidate will be invited to explore and develop solutions for critical issues in the field of resilience assessment, such as:

  • How current software technologies and methods, including web-based software, social networks/media software, and/or knowledge-based systems, can be employed to make community resilience assessment a robust and co-creative process.
  • How software-based solutions and infrastructures can be utilized to make disaster resilience assessment more accessible to communities; local, territorial, and regional authorities; and national decision makers.
  • How software-based solutions and infrastructures can be designed to ensure reliability, robustness, and performance while incorporating large amounts of data, different types of users, different modes of analysis, and potentially unpredicted usage and deployment scenarios of disaster resilience assessment.
  • Who are the ‘end users’ in resilience assessment, what are their information needs, and what are the best ways to engage end users in resilience assessment (e.g., mobile apps, apps as extensions of existing GIS software, desktop apps, web apps, expert systems, enterprise software for authorities)?

The funding for this PhD Scholarship is part of the Resilience to Nature’s Challenges research programme (RNC) – Kia manawaroa Ngā Ākina o Te Ao Tūroa –a priority research area under the National Science Challenge (NSC) umbrella. RNC is a New Zealand-wide research programme, launched in July 2015, with the aim of achieving, “transformative resilience, discovering and implementing new research-based solutions for our society, culture, infrastructure and governance to address factors that will enable New Zealand to thrive in the face of nature’s challenges,” (Jolly 2014).

The successful applicant will explore options for co-creative resilience assessment, develop appropriate software-based methods, processes, and tool(s) (e.g., web-based software for gathering, integrating, and visualizing resilience measures, or tools for crowdsourcing relevant data, software infrastructures for monitoring and sharing data) in collaboration with the Resilience to Nature’s Challenges researchers, and then prototype the methods, processes and tools ‘in the field’ with a case study community.

Scholarship Details

University of Canterbury, Ilam, Christchurch, New Zealand
Scholarship Stipend
NZD$25,000 per annum stipend (+$7000 domestic tuition)
3 years
Starting Date
February 2017
Closing date for Applications
November 14, 2016 (please note applications will be reviewed upon submission)

Notes on eligibility:

  • The PhD Scholarships are open to domestic and international candidates. International PhD students are eligible to pay domestic rates if they reside in New Zealand and have a Visa which allows you to study here. Please note, international candidates can also apply for an international postgraduate award to cover international tuition fees.
  • It is essential that each candidate has a Bachelor's degree with Honours, or a Master's degree in a relevant discipline (including Computer Science, Civil or Software Engineering, Information Systems). Applicants with degrees in Geography, Geographic Information Systems, Public Health, and Sociology are also encouraged to apply but should have a background in software engineering/development.
  • While the particular technology focus will partially depend on the applicant’s interests and skills, it is essential for candidates to have programming skills or other software development experience. Demonstrable experience of working with statistical packages (e.g. R, Stata, MatLab) and GIS software (e.g. ArcGIS, QGIS) would also be beneficial.
  • Upon receipt of this scholarship, the successful applicant would be required to apply for and engage in full-time study at the University of Canterbury.

How to apply

Applicants will need to submit an email to both Dr. John Vargo ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ) and Dr. Joanne Stevenson ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ) attaching:

  1. Full curriculum vitae,
  2. Copies of your full tertiary level education academic transcript,
  3. The contact details of two academic referees,
  4. An example of your best academic written work (this can be a piece of coursework or a published journal article),
  5. Link to GitHub page (or another repository), if applicable,
  6. Evidence of English language proficiency if applicable (e.g. IELTS>6.5), and
  7. A cover letter of no more than 1 page of A4 containing the following information:
    • State why you would like to be considered for a PhD Scholarship and rationale for the selected area(s) of interest;
    • Describe your experience in using statistical and/or GIS software to examine quantitative data and solve problems;
    • Describe your software development/engineering experience and expertise.



 Within the RNC research programme, Dr. John Vargo and Dr. Joanne Stevenson from Resilient Organisations Ltd. are co-leading the Resilience Trajectories work stream. This work stream aims to guide disaster resilience benchmarking and monitoring across a range of systems (e.g., rural and urban communities, horizontal infrastructure, regional economies), and will help RNC stakeholders identify barriers and opportunities to accelerate progress toward a resilient New Zealand.

Communities that are disaster resilient need the ability to absorb the effects of a disruptive event, minimize adverse impacts, respond effectively post-event, maintain or recover functionality, and adapt, while mitigating the adverse impacts of future events (Stevenson et al. 2015).

There is growing momentum behind efforts to ‘operationalise’ disaster resilience –creating meaningful change that enhances communities’ ability to prepare, adapt, and respond to and recover quickly from hazards and disasters. Operationalizing resilience begins with understanding where communities are, where they would like to be, and through repeated trials and evaluation, building pathways to get there. Such activities require the integration of data and knowledge across a number of platforms.

Researchers and practitioners use a wide range of tools to assess resilience to disasters and to integrate relevant information for ongoing monitoring and development. Top-down tools tend to rely on secondary data and provide systematic comparable assessments across a number of communities. For example, the PEOPLES Resilience Framework uses a GIS-based assessment that integrates different elements of resilience into a single inventory model and the Baseline Resilience Indicator for Communities (BRIC) is a quantitative measure for resilience indicators designed to facilitate systematic comparisons of the inherent community characteristics across US counties.

So-called ‘bottom-up’ methods are intended to generate areas of focus and strategy-development from the community of interest. For example, users of the Communities Advancing Resilience Toolkit (CART) gather community information using surveys and key informant interviews and seek to facilitate community planning and action, emphasizing building and sustaining connections within communities.

Critiques of resilience assessment (and interventions) have noted a systemic and chronic gap between government and research-led ‘top-down’ approaches and participatory, community-driven ‘bottom-up’ approaches.

An important frontier for advancing resilience assessment exists at the intersection of top-down and bottom-up approaches. Being able to combine the systematic replicability and comparability of top-down approaches with the contextual specificity and data generation capacity of bottom-up approaches would facilitate resilience assessments that are useful for both large-scale investment decision making and for facilitating community action. Such an approach would need to be transparent, robust, and replicable; align with the community’s goals and visions; help prioritize needs; and establish baselines for monitoring progress and recognizing success. It should also be accessible, usable, and useful for multiple stakeholders.

Barriers to such an approach include the cost of facilitating large-scale community data collection to produce comparisons (regionally and nationally); the difficulty of integrating secondary and primary datasets with dissimilar spatial extents, periodicity, and quality; and the cost and difficulty of maintaining engagement with relevant communities and decision makers for continued monitoring and progress evaluation.

We are interested in exploring innovative, socially engaged, technology-based solutions to this problem.

Download a printable PDF copy of this information

Resilience Engineering in the Health Sector

Resilience Engineering (RE) is a relatively new approach to creating and enhancing resilience in complex adaptive systems (CASs) including health care organizations. It strives to identify and correctly value behaviours and resources that contribute to a system’s ability to respond to the unexpected. As the name indicates, the assumption is that resilience can be engineered into CASs in order to create adaptive capacity. RE recognizes that a portion of variability is unavoidable and beneficial, and due to this fact it should be managed rather than ignored.

ILev 3n 2011, the Resilient Health Care Net (RHCN) was formed with a purpose to facilitate the interaction and collaboration among people who are interested in applying Resilience Engineering to health care – practitioners and researchers alike. Every year RCHN organises a networking meeting. The guiding principle for these meetings is long discussions interrupted by short presentation. This year the meeting took place in Hindsgavl Castle, Middelfart, Denmark. 59 delegates, representing 13 countries participated in the three-day event.

Presentations and discussions covered topics such as resilient leadership, variability, workarounds and adjustment in clinical practice, development of objective tools to assess resilience in the context of CASs, interaction of adaptive resilience and regulations, patients’ perspective on resilience and much more.

Lev 2Lev Zhuravsky presented a paper based on his PhD research proposal “Investigating Resilience in Health Care Organizations. Role of Shared Leadership in Realigning a Gap between Work as Imagined and Work as Done”. This presentation attracted a lot of interest and gained strong positive feedback from the group.

This meeting provided a great vehicle for shared learning collaboration and networking.

For more information regarding RCHN outputs, activities, past and future annual meetings and copies of presentations please visit-

NZ Centre for Earthquake Resilience (QuakeCoRE) Annual Meeting

Registrations are now open for the  NZ Centre for Earthquake Resilience (QuakeCoRE) Annual Meeting being held  in Taupo between 31 August and 2 September 2016.

This is an opportunity for the earthquake resilience community to come together to discuss topics including cross-disciplinary case studies, community dataset and models, transforming earthquake resilience through advanced computation and system-level approaches to resilience The meeting is open to all interested stakeholders and researchers.

Registration is free before 1 August! For more information visit

Research Update in the Resourcing the Canterbury Rebuild project

Congratulations to Alice Chang-Richards and co-authors on two recently released technical reports and two book chapters published by the Cambridge University Press.

The two reports, Capacity and capability development of Canterbury subcontracting businesses: Features, motivating factors and obstacles, February 2016 and  Trends in resourcing and employment practice of Canterbury construction organisations, February 2016 report on the latest research in the Resourcing the Canterbury Rebuild project and the role of the construction organisations and subcontractors in the post-earthquake reconstruction in Christchurch.

The two book chapters are:
CHANG-RICHARDS, Y and WILKINSON, S. (2015) Chapter 13 ‘The Roles of Integrated Project Management Frameworks and the Insurance Industry in Post-disaster Reconstruction: Recovery after the 2010 and 2011 Christchurch Earthquakes’, In: Daly, P; Feener, M. (ed.) Rebuilding Asia: Approaches to Post-Disaster Reconstruction in the Asia-Pacific Region, Cambridge University Press.

This research adds to the body of knowledge in project management. It investigated the role of a project management approach to coordinate the reconstruction and development efforts in Christchurch following the 2010/11 earthquakes. This work has added a disaster management dimension to the PMBOK Guide and Standards that is adopted internationally by project management practitioners; it has a positive influence on the project setting-up decisions made by organisations that manage post-disaster recovery, such as the Earthquake Commission (EQC) and central government; The chapter also generates teachable cases and instructors’ manuals relevant to the management of projects and programmes that meet a unique set of demands in an uncertain environment.
CHANG-RICHARDS, Y; WILKINSON, S; SEVILLE, E; POTANGAROA, R. Chapter 11 ‘Decentralizing a ‘Top – Down’ Post-disaster Reconstruction: China’s Response to the 2008 Wenchuan Earthquake', In: Daly, P; Feener, M. (ed.) Rebuilding Asia: Approaches to Post-Disaster Reconstruction in the Asia-Pacific Region, Cambridge University Press, 2016.
This research investigated the reconstruction methods that were used by different stakeholders for rebuilding houses and infrastructure damaged in the Wenchuan earthquake in China. Innovation in  reconstruction financing, procurement and implementation was summarised in this book chapter, along with the good practice that was adopted to improve the outcomes of these recovery projects, in particular in addressing some of the common challenges facing decision makers and communities in the recovery process. 

UC PhD Doctoral Seminar:The Role of Social Capital in Business Continuity Planning

You are invited to come along to hear one of our ResOrgs students, Michael Bethay presenting this PhD Doctoral Seminar on Friday 27th May, between 1.30 and 2.30pm in Room 411, Business and Law Building, University of Canterbury. 

The Role of Social Capital in Business Continuity Planning

Simply stated, inter-personal relationships and social networks are aggregated as social capital (SC). The topic of social capital, as it pertains to organisational resilience, has received increased attention among disaster researchers over the last few years. However, within the business continuity (BC) planning discipline, the concept of social capital has not been explored or considered as a planning element. Yet, extant research shows in nearly all disasters, the first people to respond to the needs of citizens are family members, neighbours, and friends. This predictable pattern recurs during the response and recovery phases in all disasters regardless of their type, location, or magnitude.

Similarly, when disasters impact organisations, it is frequently organisational relationships that provide resources and assistance during response and recovery efforts. These inter-organisational relationships—referred to as inter-organisational social capital (Inter-OSC)—play an important role in organisational disaster response and recovery. However, very little is known regarding how organisations create, maintain, and use Inter-OSC. This proposed research aims to fill these research gaps through multiple case studies of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Christchurch, New Zealand. Through the research findings, a new BC planning framework will emerge integrating Inter-OSC as a BC planning element toward increased organisational resilience.


Springing into Action with Business Continuity Planning

In celebration of Business Continuity Awareness week, one of ResOrgs’ PhD students, Michael Bethany, has come up with an innovative way to visualise the value of Business Continuity Planning.


Business continuity (BC) planning is often difficult to sell to the C-Suite. Executives look for quantifiable returns on investments (ROIs) when making budgetary decisions. The perception is BC planning ROIs are realised only after large disasters or crises. However, quality BC planning initiatives create organisations capable of absorbing disruptions and restoring them to pre-disruption status, like the recoil action of coiled springs.

The potential restorative energy of springs depends on several variables such as materials used, number of coils, and the amount of compression force applied. The breadth and depth of an organisation’s BCP is analogous to the attributes of springs. Stronger BCPs, like stronger springs, have more potential restorative energy. When compressed by a disruptive force, BCPs recoil like springs and can restore organisational operations, post-disruption.

Hooke’s Law is used for questions concerning springs. The equation to calculate force required to compress springs is: Fc = kx; where, F = force; k = the spring constant; and x = the displacement of the spring. The equation to calculate restorative force of springs is: Fr = -kx.

Modifying Hooke’s Law, if “k” represents BCP strength, when k-values are large, more force is required to displace or impact the organisation. Additionally, large k-values correlate to greater restorative force helping organisations recoil from disruptions easier.

Automobiles use springs to absorb road shocks for smoother rides and to prevent bottom out. Organisational shock absorbers—BCPs—provide resilience from disruptions. Stronger springs (BCPs) absorb and recoil from larger disruptive forces. Numerous potholes disrupt organisations including power failures, competition, changing technologies, organisational restructuring, loss of key staff members, or unconsidered crises. Like shock absorbers, BCPs soften disruptive impacts and prevent organisational bottom out from potholes.

When queries from the C-Suite arise regarding BC planning benefits/ROIs, consider using the spring analogy. Help stakeholders visualise the benefits/ROIs of strong BCPs. Perhaps, they will be Hooked on the idea and spring into action.  

By: Michael Bethany, Resilient Organisations Research Programme

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