Improving the Crisis to Crisis Learning Process

Improving the Crisis to Crisis Learning Process

Eliot Rich, Josune Hernantes, Ana Laugé, Leire Labaka, Jose M. Sarriegi, Jose J. Gonzalez
DOI: 10.4018/ijiscram.2014070103
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While crises may appear to be event-driven, post-mortem accounts often identify factors that accumulate over time and increase the likelihood of failure. These factors are particularly difficult to anticipate when multiple organizations are involved in crisis preparation and event detection. Through the development of a systems-based model of crisis management, it was learned that knowledge sharing can be accelerated or inhibited by the development of trust among organizations through the management of events. Is it possible to operationalize this finding? This hypothesis is one of the findings of the SEMPOC project, which examined crisis preparation and mitigation in the hypothetical context of an extended failure in the EU power infrastructure. The knowledge-sharing hypothesis is being tested in the ELITE project, a second activity funded by the EU to develop a multi-national Community of Practice in disaster management.
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The crises associated with natural and man-enabled disasters have very significant consequences on society’s welfare. They also present the best opportunity to learn and improve our behavior in the face of disruptive circumstance. (Un)fortunately, these opportunities to learn are scarce and maximizing the effectiveness of the learning process is a requisite for crisis management development.

The study and facilitation of organizational learning has been a challenging research problem in many problem domains. Large-scale crisis preparation and management present additional barriers to learning, as the nature of the domain increases the conflicts among interdependence of multiple agents. The complex relationships involved in crisis management may extend the time for incubation of vulnerabilities and crisis recovery. They also rest on the ability of the organization to recognize early indicators of failure and risk, even though they may be unclear or even false-positive signals (Carmeli & Schaubroeck, 2008).

In Hernantes et al. (2011), the challenges facing knowledge transfer as part of a crisis management strategy are discussed. These authors present a summary of a causal systems-based model developed as part of the SEMPOC project, explained below. This systems-based perspective provides insight into the potential of knowledge to potentiate or restrict effective crisis management.

In the latter part of the paper we describe how the findings from SEMPOC generated interest in the development of an international Community of Practice (CoP) around natural disaster planning and management. This became the basis for the ELITE project, our current work, where we are collecting and collectively reviewing lessons learned from previous crises to improve their transferability and reuse in training and strategy development. This may have the important consequence of developing trust among the participants, an element needed when facing an uncertain or unknown future landscape.

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