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News letter N° 3 - English

Ascencia conference and Congress AIRMAP 2023

Resilience in all its forms

Clarifying the contours of resilience presents a new challenge for researchers wishing to mobilise it in their disciplines. The integration of resilience into different fields is fuelling debate and extending the concept to new frontiers (Cyrulnik, 2014; Grané & Forés, 2019; Puig & Rubio, 2011; Ungar, 2018; Vanistendael, 2014, 2015). Today, resilience affects the humanities, social sciences and management sciences in all their diversity (e.g. information systems, entrepreneurship, marketing, HR, finance, organisational management, strategy, innovation, finance, consumer behaviour, etc.). Resilience can be said to be the capacity of a person or a group to develop well, to continue to project themselves into the future, in the face of destabilising events, difficult living conditions and sometimes severe trauma (Fondation pour l'Enfance, 2001, p.17). Internal and external learning leads people or organisations to adapt to a new reality. However, a scar is always present; it is part of this new life (Vanistendael, 2015). But it does not stop there...

The range of questions raised about resilience in the humanities, social sciences and management sciences has given rise to a number of interesting approaches.

  • The first is practical. Faced with an increasingly uncertain environment, the issue of resilience arises for the various players involved. How is this resilience expressed? Can we identify invariants or even evolutionary trajectories? 
  • The second is methodological. What approaches are relevant for grasping the full complexity of resilience?  The third is scientific, and lies in the researcher's obligation to ask questions. Is it possible to describe this phenomenon in its entirety?

This call for papers questions all researchers about their vision of resilience from the point of view of their own disciplinary field, which is very broad.

To what extent has the scale of the crisis we have just been through led to sometimes profound changes in management practices? Are we dealing with transitory changes, or are we seeing permanent changes in favour of more efficient practices (Teneau, 2018; Teneau & Koninck, 2010)? Are these changes intended to affect organisations or individuals? From a methodological point of view, what approaches can be used to understand the different aspects of resilience?

Among the speakers were members of the newsletter, including Nicolas Dufour and Gilles Teneau, who gave a talk on resilience in the face of cyber risks: how can it be made effective? A case study in research and intervention. This was followed by a second presentation by Sophie Agulhon on the contribution of Generation Z to the resilience of organisations. Finally, we took part in a round table discussion on 'Resilience in all its forms' with Messrs Dufour, Teneau and Awata.


Summary AIRMAP congress

On May 24, 25 and 26, 2023, the 12th AIRMAP (International Association for Research in Public Management) colloquium took place in Dijon on the theme “Public management, crises and post-crises : permanence in change ? Several thematic workshops were presented, in particular workshop 4 "Public management, development and resilience of territories: issues, challenges and perspectives" and workshop 13 "Resilience of organizations, resilience of territories: what modes of response to contemporary crises" .

Resilience is thus becoming an increasingly studied theme, particularly in territories becoming more sustainable and having to respond to the various pressures from stakeholders. Several papers were presented, they are listed below:

• "Territories in the face of shocks: What role for local authority leaders in building resilience capacities? Conceptualization proposal." Oriol Gillian, Du Boys Celine and Soldo Edina

• "Sensemaking and behavioral economics, a combined approach to analyze the resilience of local authorities in times of crisis." Delabarre Aude and Alexandre-Bourhis Nathalie

• "Building vs Dwelling during an industrial accident : a spatial perspective." Gisquet Elsa et Duymedjian Raffi

• "From one crisis to another, resilience and differentiated organizational learning: the case of the Orléans Museum of Fine Arts."Tanchoux Philippe, Abrioux Florence and Spieth Gregory

• "Storytelling and theatrical practice as vectors of resilience in the face of the ecological crisis: case of a coastal community."Bernard-Louise

• "700 years of entrenchment hit by major challenges : collapse or adaptation ? The case of the ONF's forestry planning routine." Frederic Bonin

• "The performance of institutional logistics, lever of resilience for decentralized public action ?" Le Goff Joan and Kaposztas Flore

• "How does NPM weaken the building of resilience in public organizations?" Masou Roula and Gangloff Florence

• "To delegate or not to delegate in a crisis situation ? Opinions of health professionals on delegation, for resilient and efficient teams." Chest Lara, Le Bris Sophie and Martin Dominique

“Resilience is an ability to cope with crises, situations that break with routines, a risk of collapse or blockage. Organizational learning is a driving force of resilience (Meyer, 1982). A resilient territory must also deal with war-type and health crises. Resilience is possible through unifying actions and small victories. Adaptation is based on the premises of resilience. It is adaptive DIY, back and forth shaped by the environment. The individual dimension is also important since resilience is a phenomenon of repetition, a certain learning process. The first crisis allows a living memory or archive effect. The strength of resilience depends on the capacity of the actors" ("From one crisis to another, resilience and differentiated organizational learning: the case of the Orléans Museum of Fine Arts."Tanchoux Philippe, Abrioux Florence and Spieth Grégory ).

Bernard Louise was interested in the territorial projects of La Rochelle on carbon neutrality, which impacts the way of life and a cultural change. The individual responsibility of individuals is important. The arts would make it possible to open up new ways of seeing, of apprehending, which would ultimately make it possible to mobilize the inhabitants of the territory through public interventions (Bergeron) and nudges (Thaler and Sunstein). The use of stories (Boje) is also possible. The narrative approach could therefore complement the tools of territorial resilience.

Finally, a study focuses on the role of leaders of local authorities in strengthening the dynamic capacities of territorial resilience. Senior Public Managers must anticipate crises in order to deal with them (Boin). Resilience can be seen as an outcome or a process. There is individual resilience (psychology, temperament, adaptability) and organizational resilience (Boin). The local authority is a pivotal player in the resilience of the territory because it coordinates technically and organizationally. Thus the development of dynamic capacities induces change and is formalized by learning. Managerial intentionality is at the heart of reinforcement (Teece). The resilience rooted in crisis projects is conducive to learning. The resilience of communities is to face crises, change, anticipate, but this poses a concern with New Public Management which is not very flexible, and therefore involves an overhaul of public management.

Organisational resilience - VSEs/SMEs

Last October and January, I spoke on the subject of Organisational Resilience to managers of very small businesses and SMEs, as part of workshops and training courses organised by the Seine-Estuaire CCI in Le Havre (SME Week, PLATO training).

The aim was to familiarise the entrepreneurs with the concept of Organisational Resilience and to reflect together on what this might mean in their day-to-day environment. My presentations were based on various studies and models (CIRERO, international consultants, Cranfield University, etc.) and on my experience as a CFO and Enterprise Risk Manager, and now as a consultant and coach.

These two introductory sessions are not intended to be representative, but I'd like to share a few observations and thoughts following the discussions, which could be useful for a better approach to the question of OR in this type of company.

The idea of resilience is a familiar one, benefiting from an undeniable fashion effect, and finding a certain echo in the light of current concerns. But little is known about the concept, whether applied to individuals (even in the work of 'mainstream' authors such as B. Cyrulnik) or to organisations. The result is a curiosity to discover the subject, which probably reflects the need to articulate an 'organic' response to the current uncertainty and the succession of crises, and to the very real issues of survival or transformation of organisations; but a curiosity combined with a certain mistrust.

Some subjects aroused more interest or raised more questions than others:

  • The importance of meaning and identity, and of the human element as key factors of resilience, themes highlighted during recent crises (COVID-19), is widely recognised, without necessarily knowing how to properly define and activate them.
  • How can OR processes be put into practice in small organisations? Creating and activating crisis units seems a relatively familiar practice, but where can you find the resources to create suitable crisis units and introduce diversity and creativity? Where and how can we become Toxic Handlers? Who can we rely on?  How can we keep things simple?
  • What kind of leadership should be adopted or adjusted in times of crisis, between the desire to control, delegate or let go, for a manager whose personal resilience is also at stake and remains inseparable from that of the organisation?
  • Getting an overall picture and assessing organisational vulnerability is difficult; so is accepting systemic vulnerability, or vulnerability linked to the company's managers and mental models (cf. the processual theory of crisis, C. Roux-Defort; P. Silberzahn for mental models).
  • On the other hand, there were few questions about OR evaluation or monitoring tools, even though this was not the main focus of my presentation.
  • The mention of the Appreciative Inquiry as a possible approach to identifying the strengths of the organisation and rediscovering meaning, aroused curiosity and interest.

What lessons can we learn from this?

Given the current economic climate, and the interest shown in these presentations, I feel it is important to continue to share and explain the RO processes, and to think about approaches that are tailored to VSEs/SMEs. I would propose four areas of focus:

  • Based on real-life experience, highlighting the resilient approaches that many VSEs and SMEs have found during recent crises; questioning potential vulnerabilities, and drawing a mirror image.
  • How can we make better use of a local ecosystem that is generally well known and mastered, which can provide resources and answers, but can also be limiting in its vision of things.
  • Better take into account and integrate the vulnerability and personal resilience of the CEO, who remains the main bearer of meaning.
  • Keeping concepts and tools simple.

Bio: Jean-Philippe Gauvrit is an executive coach, mentor and consultant. A former Chief Financial Officer and Risk Manager in international groups (Alcatel-Lucent, Nokia), he coaches organisations, managers and young professionals in the face of change, at the crossroads of creativity and resilience. 

Research day - Confronting the black swans of anti-fragile organisations

Research day

October 05, 2023 at CNAM Paris, ESDR3C laboratory, Defence Security Team

The Centre for Investigation and Research into Organisational Resilience (CIRERO) is organising a research day with the ESDR3C laboratory at CNAM Paris.

Confronting the black swans of anti-fragile organisations

New contributions (digital resilience, cyber resilience, non-managerial risk management, cyber security)

Scientific purpose of the day

Recent crises have highlighted the need for organisations to develop their ability to cope with uncertainty when faced with crises that are out of the ordinary or black swans (Lagadec, 2006; Taleb, 2013). These crisis situations are an opportunity to study how organisations have acted to cope with such shocks (Godé et al., 2020; Sein, 2020). Organisational resilience has been widely applied since the mid-2000s (UN, 2005). We can see that crises have changed, they are out of control (Lagadec, 2010) and our organisations need to become antifragile (Taleb, 2010). Faced with this new turbulence (Pariès 2020), the resilience of organisations is opening up to other areas of expertise (Suarez, Montes, 2021), such as digital resilience, cyber-resilience, the contribution of information systems and new technologies (Frimousse, Peretti, 2021). Digital resilience is seen as a resilience factor (Chair, Bounid, 2022). The technical robustness of information systems to guarantee business continuity and the ability of organisations to organise themselves to withstand cyber attacks (Rothrock, 2018) are all considered by the authors to be forms of digital resilience. The professional literature also uses the notion of digital resilience to discuss cyber resilience (https://www.bearingpoint.com/fr-fr/publications-evenements/publications/resilience-cyber/). Similarly, the fields of resilience with regard to multiple organisations, whether micro, meso or macro (Besson, Rowe, 2011), ideological or non-ideological (Boisselier, 2023), real or virtual (Geoffroy 2019), strategic, defensive, offensive, commercial or non-commercial, are evolving in the face of multiple accelerated shocks (Teneau, Pautet, 2018). This research day, a precursor to a conference, will provide an opportunity to reflect on these new trends in the resilience of our organisations.

Specific themes of the day

Cyber-resilience for business continuity, protecting against attacks

The contribution of information systems to organisational resilience

Operational resilience in the context of geostrategy

The infrastructures of the French Navy, anti-fragile organisations

The resilience of organisations dedicated to critical situations

Digital resilience and cyber-resilience in the face of crises outside the workplace

The resilience of ideological organisations

Digital transformation for an antifragile organisation

Intelligence and resilience: anticipating and reducing uncertainty

Defining and democratising concepts (dependability; cybersecurity; cyber-resilience; digital resilience; antifragility; crises outside the framework; black swans)

The contribution of digital technology to influence and information warfare, towards resilience in national defence

Submission and evaluation protocol

Submission of paper proposals by 31 July to gilles_teneau@yahoo.fr

2/3 page communication plan

Title and scope of research, key words, issues, focus, problem, hypotheses and research question, epistemological position, methodological framework, results and bibliography

Acceptance date for communication intentions end of July

Papers will be assessed by a select scientific committee.

Submission of V1, V2, etc. for publication in Risks and Resilience after the research day

MBA in Crisis Management and Communication

Presentation of the MBA in Crisis Management and Communication, from October 2023

DeVinci Executive Education

By Thierry PORTAL and Clément JOCTEUR MONROZIER co-educational directors

Every day we live in a permanent state of violent, protean crises. Businesses, institutions, communities and societies are no longer immune to this "Damoclean era" predicted by Edgar Morin in the 1990s in his book Terre Patrie. Whether we are talking about global crises (e.g. covid-19) or specific crises, we are drowning in a flood of daily 'catastrophic' events that give our disenchanted era an air of the end of the world. For businesses alone, going through a crisis phase has become inescapable. Scandals, technical accidents, health tragedies, sudden disruptions, public opinion and social networks, competitive wars and social or environmental impacts have for some years now formed the daily fabric of new challenges to be met by economic players. Those who face them sometimes emerge stronger by revitalising their managerial fundamentals. Although still in the minority today, those who prepare for them often find a new lease of life. 

On the other hand, the vast majority of companies use simple expedients for lack of resources. Unprepared and lacking organisational maturity, they multiply managerial ignorance and cultivate illusory solutions. This capacity for collective blindness feeds the breeding grounds all the more because, when a crisis occurs, it's already too late: in the age of 5G, speed overwhelms you and time escapes you. All it takes is one poorly controlled event to immediately trigger a cycle of repercussions with deleterious effects and devastating impacts (loss of markets, reputation or internal cohesion). Whatever their size, location or sector of activity, companies very quickly become the perfect scapegoats, responsible for their own actions as well as those of others. The result is controversy, conflict and scandal, leading to liability and undermining the long-term viability of their business. There's no denying it. This raises three main sets of questions, which DeVinci Executive Education wishes to answer, divided into as many blocks of skills: How can we find meaning and prevent such a deluge? How do we get through the inevitable? How can we make communication a useful lever?

The best specialists, including Gilles TENEAU (who has also agreed to join the MBA's Strategic Teaching Committee), will present their knowledge, their practices and their doubts: acting in an uncertain world requires real lucidity, "that wound closest to the sun" to paraphrase the poet René Char. DeVinci offers a culture of crisis, a field of practical experience, and perhaps a "path to wisdom".

1)       BLOCK 1 - How can we find meaning and prevent such a deluge?

The occurrence of a crisis calls into question the very foundations of our organisations. It reveals both our collective failings, like an iceberg tipping over to reveal the unspeakable, and our own individual failings (emotions and feelings, more or less virtuous). As in photography, a crisis acts as a negative of ourselves, exposing what the organisation and its governance have hitherto wished to conceal. DeVinci offers a specific programme for "getting to grips with the culture of crises", built around a 1st block that presents the fundamental knowledge needed to understand what we're talking about.

In addition to the traditional business risks (fire, explosion, environmental damage, defective products, etc.), there are now new challenges: the mastery of information technologies, the influence of public opinion and militant minorities, the increase in subcontracting, the strengthening of legal constraints, the impact on health and the climate, etc. Today, all businesses, large and small, are exposed. Above all, working on the idea of crisis and its prevention requires us to look beyond its purely destructive aspects to consider the potential for learning and transformation that it offers, by putting companies in the unprecedented position of being able to give new meaning to their actions.  Doesn't evolving mean changing the level of error?

2)       BLOCK 2 - How do you get through the inevitable?

Everyone talks about "crisis management". But what are we talking about? Not so long ago, some people were talking about crash management (what to do when the damage has already been done?), while crisis management practices were already being deployed (preventing, preparing for, reacting to and capitalising on crises). So what are we actually talking about? In just a few years, crisis management has become a strategic issue, not only to preserve the legitimacy and sustainability of the organisations involved, but also to guarantee the well-being of the communities and societies in which they evolve. Many tools now exist to prepare companies to deal with deteriorating situations. As a result, plans, standards and new practices are emerging that enable the most daring to react wisely, breaking out of the all-too-common pattern deciphered by researcher C. Roux-Dufort: "act without seeing; see without acting; react in order not to see; react in order to react".

It also depends on the discernment of a company's management teams, the level of internal cohesion they foster and the leadership style they embody. Those who succeed often display rare qualities (concentration, energy, fine judgement, anticipation, humility and calm). These are all virtues that help to prepare the organisation to weather the storm, to make the best decisions on the spot, and to set a course for improvement with confidence. This important block will conclude with a ZOOM on closure and the post-crisis period. Let's start from the principle that a crisis is rarely over! Even when it is out of the media spotlight, it never disappears completely, especially in the memory of the web, legal time or the way it is used by stakeholders. It can take an infinite amount of time to heal. Above all, the crisis will be truly negative if it is endured without being understood and exploited. So companies have a choice: they can learn nothing from the event; they can capitalise on it to improve their emergency management; they can question the managerial and organisational givens; or they can use the crisis as a lever to redefine the company's global identity.

But most of the time, organisations avoid (or don't take the time to) look back at how they dealt with the event. That's the difficulty of a properly conducted, dispassionate, transparent and non-judgemental feedback process. It's a delicate phase that all too often reveals complacency, illusory misinformation, the weight of political correctness, fear of judgement, the risk of settling scores, hyper-confidentiality and the stifling of watchers. We will therefore start from the premise that crisis management consists of bringing the crisis to a close and extracting all the latent opportunities for the company: necessary corrective measures; new response schemes; a shared crisis culture; a spirit of resilience; organisational maturity; transition and turnaround, etc.

3)       BLOCK 3 - How to make communication an effective lever?

"One word and all is saved" wrote André Breton.

Let's start with a few simple principles to set out the programme for this third block devoted to communication in times of crisis. A crisis communication system cannot avoid a crisis, but it is a fundamental component of overall crisis management: it only makes sense if it is linked to the management of the crisis itself. Even more serious: "If you don't master the information crisis, you won't master the crisis, including its directly operational aspects". (J. Scanlon).

What's more, crisis communication obeys its own rules and media dynamics, such as the weight of public perceptions (primary emotions), the historicity and social acceptability of a subject/project, and amplifying effects. In other words, you can be legally and technically right but mediatically wrong! When dealing with the public, rational dimensions alone are not enough... ". There is no right or wrong: there are only clashes of points of view". (P. Lagadec, X). While it is difficult to assess "after the fact" the real contribution made by communication in the event of "success" in managing a crisis, it is very easy to see, in the event of failure, to what extent it is attributable to poor communication. That's the difficulty of good crisis communication!

A ZOOM on the impact of social networks (Rx Sx) in crisis management will close this last block. We live - and the pace is accelerating - in a volatile, disintermediated environment where behaviour is changing. "Was the world vertical? It's becoming horizontal. Siloed? It's community-based. Sequential? Nothing beats real time" (C. Dexemple). Public opinion has fragmented into multiple, composite and unstable opinions. And each one intends to play a role in it, in one capacity or another. Consumers, citizens, partners and employees expect greater transparency and immediacy. Requests for information need to be met instantly, and the whole process demands more responsive, more continuous and more personalised communication: this is the hallmark of social networks, where information, rumours and emotions are shared instantaneously with 10, 100, 500 friends and followers, with a formidable multiplier effect and capillarity in an open world where everyone has their say. Ambivalent, Rx Sx can also prove useful in times of crisis. The new horizon of 'digital' crisis management is opening up huge opportunities for everyone to contribute, in their own way, to resolving a crisis: alerts, mass distribution of backup information, but also mobile applications (e.g. TousAntiCovid), simulation of the pressure exerted by stakeholders, monitoring of Rx Sx...

INTERVIEW de Charlotte Brown



Dr. Brown is a researcher from New Zealand who specializes in disaster management. She also has expertise in organizational resilience.

Membership in resilient organizations, a research group and an advisory group focused on organizational risk and resilience. Dr. Brown regularly works with utilities on critical infrastructure. It supports organizations of all sizes, across all sectors, and across all types of disruptive change.

This summer, we were pleased to ask Dr. Charlotte Brown about organizational resilience. She shared her vision on this, her expertise, and her collaboration with New Zealand organizations to better prepare for uncertainty.

Focus on Dr. Brown. In this interview, she gives us the keys to the main elements and concepts that need to be addressed to develop an organizational resilience theory.