In the tumultuous and unprecedented times of the 21st century, resilience is more important than ever for organizational success. High-reliability organizations (HROs) are known for their ability to operate effectively in high-risk contexts by preventing avoidable crises and maintaining resilience when challenges arise. In the psychology literature, resilience is the phenomenon of overcoming adversity with minimal negative impact to performance and well-being. Although the study of psychological resilience began at the individual level, researchers are beginning to adopt a multilevel perspective of the construct that accounts for resilience at the team and organizational levels. While the science of HROs has been studied for several decades, research on psychological resilience in the workplace has only just begun to flourish by comparison. There are many lessons for creating and maintaining resilience that can be learned from the successful practice of HROs. HROs have systems of layered defenses in place that allow the organization to prevent precluded events and overcome the potential negative impact of adverse conditions and near misses. Organizations that conduct work in high-risk contexts may be able to model the success of HROs by keeping learning foremost, investing time and resources into team training, supporting a climate of psychological safety, coaching employees to keep performance objectives in focus, and practicing systems thinking and accounting for complexity in resource allocation. Maintaining resilience is not a duty outlined in a formal job description, yet it is undoubtedly important for enabling effective high-risk work. Going above and beyond the formal definition of roles may be the only route to effectiveness in these organizations.
Tiffany M. Bisbey, Molly P. Kilcullen, and Eduardo Salas
The importance of the risk portfolio managed by business continuity management professionals challenges us to think beyond the field’s current state of existence to the purposeful establishment of an academic discipline that can underpin a recognized profession of business continuity management. Viewing and extending professional practice within, and beyond, baseline expectations based on a rich body of relevant scholarly literature is necessary to this effort. The relevant scholarly literature is distributed across dozens of disciplines and is often not identified or recognized as being within the parameters of business continuity management’s body of knowledge. The lack of a clearly defined body of knowledge is an impediment to the development of an academic discipline. An academic discipline of business continuity management would provide a platform to examine, support, and enhance practice in addition to supporting professionalization efforts. Recognized professions that base practice on a specialized body of knowledge and expertise are afforded the tenets of authority, autonomy, and monopoly. These tenets enhance the profession’s ability to elevate practice and serve its constituents and organizations. The importance of business continuity management discipline development and professionalization advancement efforts cannot be overstated. These efforts are key to both enhanced organizational resilience and greater societal resilience.