Human and organizational responses to extreme threats: a comparative developmental approach

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Purpose: The proposed theoretical model offers a systematic approach to synthesize the fragmented research on organizational crisis, disasters and extreme events. Design/methodology/approach: This paper offers a theoretical model of organizational responses to extreme threats. Findings: The paper explains that organizations choose between hypervigilance (freeze), exit (flight), growth (fight) and dormancy (fright) when faced with extreme threats. The authors explain how the choice between these responses are informed by the interplay between slack and routines. Research limitations/implications: The study’s theoretical model contributes by explaining the nature of organizational responses to extreme threats and how the two underlying mechanisms, slack and routines, determine heterogeneity between organizations. Practical implications: The authors advance four key managerial considerations: the need to distinguish between discrete and chronic threats, the critical role of hypervigilance in the face of extreme threats, the distinction between resources and routines during threat mitigation, and the recognition that organizational exit may sometimes be the most effective means for survival. Originality/value: The novelty of this paper pertains to the authors’ use of the comparative developmental approach to incorporate insights from the study of individual responses to life-threatening events to explain organizational responses to extreme threats.

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Management Decision

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