Article Highlight | 9-Apr-2024

Resilience in the face of uncertainty: A comparative study on organizational learning from the 22/7 terrorist attacks and the COVID-19 pandemic

Maximum Academic Press

Disasters, epitomized by the unexpected 2011 terrorist attacks in Norway and the anticipated COVID-19 pandemic in the UK, reveal critical lessons for organizational learning. These events, characterized as 'Black Swans' and 'Black Elephants' respectively, underscore the importance of early detection and the potential for mitigating escalation.

On 04 August 2023, Emergency Management Science and Technology published a research article entitled by “Learning from disasters: the 22/7-terrorism in Norway and COVID-19 through a failure modelling lens”. This paper delves into whether organizations can learn from catastrophes through user feedback, advanced tools, and interdisciplinary approaches, aiming to explore the dynamics of learning from failures and successes within organizational contexts.

The research adopts a methodological approach emphasizing the analysis of failures and successes through Fault Tree Analysis (FTA) and Reliability Block Diagram (RBD) to dissect and understand the complex interplay of factors leading to disasters. FTA maps out the causality and interrelation of various events contributing to a disaster, using logic gates to connect these events and illustrate how they cumulatively lead to an undesirable outcome. The RBD complements this process by visualizing the system's reliability and identifying vulnerabilities within it, hence facilitating scenario-based analysis for better preparedness and response.

The study’s findings, applied to case studies like the 22/7 terrorist attacks in Norway and the COVID-19 pandemic in the UK, reveal critical gaps in risk perception, preparedness, and inter-agency communication, highlighting the importance of timely implementation of security measures and the challenges posed by organizational unlearning and personnel turnover. The analysis underscores the necessity of a proactive risk management process that integrates FTA and RBD to optimize resource allocation and enhance system resilience against future disasters.

To conclude, this research not only offers insights into the specific failures of each case but also contributes to the broader knowledge of disaster management and organizational learning, advocating for the adoption of hybrid models and cross-organizational learning to mitigate and prepare for catastrophic events.





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Henriette Kirksæther Bendiksby1, Ashraf Labib2, *


1. Institute of Criminal Justice Studies, University of Portsmouth, Portsmouth, PO1 3DE, United Kingdom

2. Operations and Systems Management, Faculty of Business and Law, University of Portsmouth, Portsmouth, PO1 3DE, United Kingdom

About Ashraf Labib

He is a Professor of Operations and Decision Analysis at the Faculty of Business and Law. He has also been the Associate Dean (Research) of the Faculty and Director of the DBA Programme. His main research focuses on Strategic Operations Management and Decision Analysis, including Manufacturing, Reliability Engineering and Maintenance Systems, Multiple Criteria Decision-Analysis and Applications of Artificial Intelligence such as Fuzzy Logic.

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