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The Potential Contribution of the Field of Organizational Development to Crisis Management



This paper explores the possibilities of cross-disciplinarity between organization development and crisis management. The departure point of our reflection is that crisis management as a field currently faces two limitations. First, two major trends have characterized this field to date: the sociological analysis of organizational contingencies which focus on disasters as social events and the crisis management planning which emphasizes the development of techniques to master hazards. Despite what we have learned from these approaches, neither seems to lead to a crisis management learning model that fosters organizational resilience in coping with crises. Second, researchers have studied a number of events as single case studies but have not synthesized these case studies. Consequently, each crisis seems idiosyncratic and administrators tend to repeat the same inefficient patterns when a crisis occurs. The research proposal presented in this paper aims to remove these limitations by bringing together two apparently opposing fields of study, that of crisis management, characterized by what are perceived as specific events, and that of organizational development, characterized by the strengthening of organizations' capacities to cope with lasting changes. This paper proposes to explore their potential to work together theoretically and empirically through a research design. We conclude on how this proposal meets the challenges of a new research agenda in the 21st century.