Class 1: Organizational Decision-Making in Crisis

Provided by Elke Schüßler, Johannes Kepler University of Linz

Guiding questions: What does a pandemic have to do with organization theory? How do decision-making processes influence how organizations and societies deal with crisis? When does crisis (fail to) lead to organizational or societal change?


Slides: PDF / PPT

Core readings

Farley, J., Baker, D., Batker, D., Koliba, C., Matteson, R., Mills, R., & Pittman, J. (2007). Opening the policy window for ecological economics: Katrina as a focusing event. Ecological Economics, 63(2-3), 344-354. PDF

Kornberger, M., Leixnering, S., & Meyer, R. E. (2019). The logic of tact: How decisions happen in situations of crisis. Organization Studies, 40(2), 239-266. PDF 

Contemporary news articles

Baker, P. (2020). ‘We Can’t Go Back to Normal’: How Will Coronavirus Change the World? The Guardian, March 31.
Grey, S. & MacAskill, A. (2020). Special Report: Johnson Listened to his Scientists about Coronavirus – but They Were Slow to Sound the Alarm. Mobile Reuters, April 7.

Post-lecture assignment

Write a short (about 250 words each) memo about the following two questions:

  1. Which models and logics of organizational decision-making from your readings and the lecture can you recognize in practice in the current Covid19 crisis? Find one example and outline the decision-making dynamic. 
  2. In this example, discuss the role of actors in using the Covid19 crisis to bring about organizational/industrial/societal change. 

Background readings

Cohen, M. D., March, J. G., & Olsen, J. P. (1972). A garbage can model of organizational choice. Administrative Science Quarterly, 1-25. PDF

Müller-Seitz, G., & Schüßler, E. (2013). From event management to managing events. Managementforschung, 23, 193-226. SSRN

Rerup, C. (2009). Attentional triangulation: Learning from unexpected rare crises. Organization Science20(5), 876-893. PDF

Background video

Crisis management (by Prof. Markus Reihlen, Leuphana University Lüneburg)