Socio-Ecological System Implications of Organizational Resilience

Socio-Ecological System Implications of Organizational Resilience

José G. Vargas-Hernández, Omar C. Vargas-González
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-6684-4605-8.ch002
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The aim of this chapter is to direct a socio-ecological system as a construct of organizational resilience able to include research to create a coherent and comprehensive analysis of the implications of uncertainty, complexity, discontinuity, and adversity. The analysis departs from the development of conceptualizations, definitions, methods, functions, operations, assessments, and measures. The methodology employed is based on transdisciplinary approaches to a qualitative and reflective analysis of the theoretical and empirical literature review. It is concluded that an integral approach to organizational resilience must consider a socio-ecological system to assess the environmental implications of uncertainty, complexity, discontinuity, and adversity as a source of bouncing back and forward from organizational crises.
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Any kind of organization needs to develop a resilience capacity enabling to cope effectively with environmental uncertainty and complexity of future events (Lengnick-Hall, et al., 2011). The definition of the organizational resilience profile may be able to describe how to cope the complexity of the system, the analysis of factors and categories under the assumption of their effects and limitations for a systemic organizational change.

The systems approach to a construct structure of organizational resilience (Tierney, 2003) is based on dimensions of robustness, resourcefulness, redundancy, and rapidity. Other construct structure of organizational resilience develops from robustness, integrity, and agility (Deniz & Iseri Say, 2015). Resilience incorporates notions of anticipation, retroactive evaluation, systemic adjustments, and validation.

Research in organizational resilience is a inter and transdisciplinary field that build bridges with the geographic, environmental, ecological, sociological, psychological, climate sciences, etc. aimed to develop and build resilience within socioecological systems. Qualitative research methods can be used and performed to study organizational behavior from a person-centric approaches such as interviews and focus groups to consider different experiences based on the evaluations of the severity situations in the face of adversity and crisis (Walker & Cooper, 2011)

The conceptual foundation for organizational resilience can be lay out through a transdisciplinary perspective based on psychology, ecology, engineering, ecology, and organization science aimed to develop a construct of resilience. The transdisciplinary approach frames organizational resilience to reap benefits from adverse events that have not been achieved in absence of adversity. This transdisciplinary approach draws insights on the concept and nature of organizational resilience after the comparison of underlying assumption. The nature of resilience is being exposed in the domains of psychology, systems, engineering, sociology, ecology, socioecological systems, organizational sciences.

Several disciplines such as management, psychology, sociology, ecology, etc., back up organizational resilience. The concept of resilience is used in ecology (Walker & Cooper, 2011; Walker et al., 2002), engineering (Woods, 2006), and psychology (Antonovsky, 1996), and across all fields. The concept of resilience was introduced in psychology (Coutu, 2002) and popularized after Holling (1973) in fields such as ecology, psychology, sociology, management and organization sciences, engineering, etc., and specific topics such as disaster management (Henry & Ramirez- Marquez, 2010; Annarelli & Nonino, 2016; Bergström, et al., 2015).

Resilience is an issue studied in all academic fields such as ecology (Walker et al., 2002), psychology (Powley, 2009), organization management (Weick, 1993: Gilbert, et al., 2012), engineering (Hollnagel et al., 2006), and several more. From the perspective of psychology and organizational behavior, Weick (1993) sustains that organizational resilience is the ability to support individual and social interactions in an environment of organizational wisdom. The psychological resilience refers to the quality of individuals, groups and organizations as a system that responds to disruptive change that results from the pattern of events without engaging in regressive behavior (Horne & Orr, 1998: 31).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Uncertainty: The situation of ignorance that one has about what will happen in the future.

Environmental Complexity: It is the reflection of knowledge on the real, which leads to objectifying nature and intervening in it, making it more complex through knowledge that transforms the world through its knowledge strategies. It is the field where various epistemologies, rationalities and imaginaries converge that transform nature and open the construction of a sustainable future.

Socio Ecological System: It is an analysis tool that starts from the combination in an organized whole of the set of social factors with a set of ecological factors to, in this way, understand the reactions of the ecological factors to changes in social factors and vice versa.

Ecosystem Resilience: It is the ability of an ecosystem to maintain its normal patterns of nutrient cycling and biomass production after being subjected to damage caused by a disturbance.

Socio Ecology: Is the study of human systems in interaction with their environmental systems, with the term emphasizing that society cannot be separated from nature.

Resilience: Adaptability of a living being in the face of a disturbing agent or an adverse state or situation. Capacity of a material, mechanism, or system to recover its initial state when the disturbance to which it had been subjected has ceased.

Organizational Resilience: An organization's ability to anticipate, prepare for, respond to, and adapt to exponential change and sudden disruptions to survive and thrive.

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