Business recovery from disaster: A research update for practitioners

Elora Kay, Charlotte Brown, Tracy Hatton, Joanne R. Stevenson, Erica Seville, John Vargo

Australasian Journal of Disaster and Trauma Studies, December 2019, Vo1 23, No. 2. pp. 83-89.


In the week following the Darfield magnitude 7.1 earthquake on September 4th 2010, researchers from the Resilient Organisations research group convened in Christchurch to set out a plan for learning as much as possible about the effects of the earthquake on organisations across their shaken region. This began a six-year process of data collection, analysis, and learning about the way organisations are affected by, adapt to, and recover from major disruptions. Between November 2010 and September 2016, our research team interviewed and surveyed over 1000 organisations across the Canterbury region through a series of earthquakes and disruptions, building a broad and rich dataset of insights that can now help other organisations facing disruptions in the future.

In this article, we identify the top ten lessons for managing through crisis, being agile and adaptive in the face of change, and finding opportunities in disruption based on the experiences of real organisations. The lessons learned in the Canterbury event can inform resilience enhancement for the many organisations facing complex hazard risks, including those in New Zealand’s capital, Wellington.

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