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The Geography of Strain: Organizational Resilience as a Function of Intergroup Relations

Kahn, WA; Fisher, CM; Barton, MA; Heaphy, ED; Reid, EM; Rouse, ED; (2017) The Geography of Strain: Organizational Resilience as a Function of Intergroup Relations. Academy of Management Review , 43 (3) pp. 509-529. 10.5465/amr.2016.0004. Green open access

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Abstract

Organizational resilience is defined as the organization's ability to absorb strain and preserve or improve functioning despite the presence of adversity. Existing scholarship implicitly assumes that organizations experience and respond holistically to acute forms of adversity. We challenge this assumption by theorizing how adversity can create differential strain, affecting parts rather than the whole of organizations. We argue that relations among those parts fundamentally shape organizational resilience. We develop a theoretical model that maps how the differentiated emergence of strain in focal parts of an organization triggers the movements of adjoining parts to provide or withhold resources necessary for focal parts to adapt effectively. Drawing on core principles of theories about intergroup relations, we theorize three specific pathways—integration, disavowal, and reclamation—by which responses of adjoining parts to focal part strain shape organizational resilience. We further theorize influences on whether and when adjoining parts are likely to select different pathways. The resulting theory reveals how the social processes among parts of organizations influence member responses to adversity, and ultimately organizational resilience. We conclude by noting the implications for organizational resilience theory, research and practice.

Type: Article
Title: The Geography of Strain: Organizational Resilience as a Function of Intergroup Relations
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.5465/amr.2016.0004
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.5465/amr.2016.0004
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science > UCL School of Management
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1565598
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