Organizations under siege: Innovative adaptive behaviors in work organizations

Alan Avi Kirschenbaum, Carmit Rapaport

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


By examining the actual behavior of both managers and employees in work organizations during a crisis, we were able to better understand conditions facilitating an organization’s ability to maintain operational continuity. Building on theories of organizational and disaster behavior, a working model was developed and tested from evidence acquired from work organizations that were subjected to massive Katyusha rocket bombardment of Northern Israel in 2006. The results support the notion that organizational response to a disaster includes a social process of innovative behavioral adaptation to changing and threatening conditions. Based on both perceived and actual financial performance levels during the crisis, we discerned that on the one hand, the organization’s managers react within the administrative constraints of their organizations according to their perception of its performance. The day-to-day operations, however, are maintained as employees’ adapt their own behavior to the changing demands of the situation. The analysis further shows that although plans, drills and emergency regulations are important for performance behaviors during the emergency, it was employees’ innovative adaptive behaviors that contributed to maintaining actual organizational performance. These adaptive work behaviors depended on a series of social process predictors such as the levels of emergent and prosocial behaviors as well as the densities of social networks at the workplace. The findings both support and focus on the role that external organizational disruption can have on innovative organizational adaptation and change.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23-43
Number of pages21
JournalNATO Science for Peace and Security Series C: Environmental Security
StatePublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Springer ScienceCBusiness Media Dordrecht 2014.


  • Adaptation
  • Organizational continuity
  • Performance under crises
  • Social networks

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Environmental Science


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