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  • Two Faces of Organizational Resilience: Robustness versus Adaptability

Two Faces of Organizational Resilience: Robustness versus Adaptability

  • 25 Jan 2024
  • 9:00 AM - 10:30 AM (EST)
  • Zoom Webinar
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Two Faces of Organizational Resilience 

Robustness versus Adaptability

Thorbjørn Knudsen

Professor of Strategic Organization at the Frankfurt School of Finance and Management

25th Jan 2024, Thursday at 9 am Eastern Standard Time

This paper re-examines the organizational design paradigms of complex versus modular structures, delineating circumstances where complexity serves as an asset rather than a liability.  We introduce the concept of 'reconstructive resilience'—the ability of a fully integrated, complex organization to leverage internal information, enhancing its robustness against random perturbations.  However, this complexity, while beneficial for robustness, may also render organizations more fragile to significant external shocks.  In contrast, modular organizations are known for their 'adaptive resilience'—their ability in adapting to disruptive technological shifts.  Although modularity facilitates adaptability, we show that it does so at an overlooked shortcoming: it implies loss of operational information, which can diminish resilience to frequent minor disturbances, impede self-repair, and potentially affect scalability—attributes that are crucial in stable environments. Through application from information theory, we demonstrate that organizations must strategically balance the tradeoffs between complexity and modularity to optimize their resilience, reconciling robustness with adaptability for sustained efficacy.

Thorbjørn Knudsen holds the Professorship of Strategic Organization at the Frankfurt School of Finance and Management.  Knudsen has published extensively on organizational evolution, organization design, and strategic decision-making with articles and books in leading outlets.  Prior to his tenure at the Frankfurt School, he served as a co-director of the Danish Institute for Advanced Study and as Director of the research unit for Strategic Organization Design (SOD), both at the University of Southern Denmark.  Knudsen is a foundational member of the Experimental Organization Science community (EOS), the Theoretical Organization Methods (TOM) society, and the Organizational Design Community (ODC).  He has served as Senior Editor of Organization Science and on the editorial boards of the Academy of Management Journal, Journal of Organization Design, Organization Science, Strategic Management Journal, and Strategy Science.

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Registration closes 24th Jan, 2024 at 10 am (eastern time)

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