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Expressing Compassion in the Face of Crisis: Organizational Practices in the Aftermath of the Brisbane Floods of 2011

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Abstract

Compassion is almost universally acknowledged as an important issue in the crisis management literature. The dominant perspective, however, approaches compassion instrumentally. The findings of this study on the compassionate support offered (or not) to employees during and after the Brisbane flood crisis of January 2011 provide insight into crisis management as a continuous process rather than a reactionary response when disaster arises. Three significant policy implications are generated: First, compassionate discourses and categorization schemas should be clearly articulated within the organization before crisis. Second, compassionate policies and practices need to be embedded in ongoing organizational routines and policies. Third, initiatives framed as compassion responses should not be assumed to necessarily create positive outcomes; rather, outcomes should be assessed on an ongoing basis.

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