Inderscience Publishers

Business continuity as an adaptive social process


We argue that 'business continuity' is primarily a social rather than an economic process. By examining the actual behaviour of both managers and employees in work organisations during a crisis, we were able to better predict the organisation's preparedness and ability to cope with disasters. This argument is based on evidence from a study completed during the 2006 Katyusha rocket bombardment of northern Israel and included 13 work organisations. The results point out that organisational response to a disaster includes a process of adaptation to new and changing conditions. On the one hand, the organisations' managers react according to their values, culture and past experience. The day-to-day operations, however, are maintained as employees adapt their own behaviour to the changing demands of the situation. The analysis further showed that although plans, drills and emergency guidance are important to determine the desirable performance behaviours during the emergency, it was employees' adaptive behaviours that contributed to maintaining business operations. These adaptive work behaviours depended on a series of socially related predictors such as their past experience, family and community attitudes and social networks at the workplace. Overall, the evidence demonstrates that successful business continuity is best predicted by a series of social processes and depends primarily among employees' ability to adapt to dynamic emergency situations.

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