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Health care organizations’ resilience in the COVID-19 crisis: A multi-dimension study across Europe

The spread of COVID-19 seems to have hit Europe out of the blue. Effects of this crisis cannot be estimated at the present. In this context, researchers as well as practitioners are particularly interested in how health care organizations can cope with uncertainty and how they can become more resilient.

Organizational resilience is the firm’s ability to anticipate trends and threats, to cope with unexpected events effectively, and to learn from those events (Duchek, 2014).

Responding to current calls in the literature, we specifically aim to investigate the relationship between leaders’ and organizational resilience. A multi-level study with initially three countries (60 interviews) will provide important insights. Partially structured interviews with members of medical and nursing staff, administrators and other key actors involved in the crisis management will be our primary data source, supplemented by observations, internal documents and freely available press reports.

Since our study is predominantly inductive, the Gioia methodology seems to be suitable for the analysis of the transcribed material. Our goal is to uncover new concepts rather than confirm old ones (Wickert & de Bakker, 2018).

We also intend to conduct a subsequent transnational survey if we succeed in extending this highly topical research project to the EU level.

By examining health care organizations’ resilience from a multi-level perspective, we address one of "the grand challenges that confront our species" (Tourish, 2020: 107), especially since this crisis will probably not be the last global pandemic. Thus, we will provide useful implications for health care practice.

©Charlotte Förster

Why or why not did health care infrastructure collapse in the context of the COVID-19 outbreak?


In light of recent events and with the objective to learn from the current global pandemic, we specifically aim to investigate...


  • how leaders’ resilience affecting organizational resilience, and vice versa, differs across different European countries, namely Italy, Austria, and Germany?
  • how leaders’ resilience affects organizational resilience, and vice versa, in this context?
  • how organizational resilience and leaders’ resilience, especially in hospitals’ intensive care units, has been expressed by the emergence of the COVID 19 crisis?

Our research team...

... is an interdisciplinary team at the Institute of Leadership and Change Management of the Johannes Kepler University Linz. In cooperation with the Department of Pulmonology at the Kepler University Hospital, we seek to understand what has happened and is still happening during the current COVID 19 crisis in European hospitals. In this way, we aim to provide important contributions to future pandemic management.


How is the project scheduled?

To understand what is or was happening in European hospitals during the COVID-19 crisis, we are looking for interview partners with different areas of responsibility, but all affected by the current COVID-19 pandemic. Interviews can be in English as well as German.


How can you help us?

By participating in this study, you will help us to gain new insights and recommendations for action so that future crises, not only pandemics, but any kind of crisis can be better managed. With this knowledge, preparations can be made, and those competencies can be strengthened that are needed to support you while coping with your work. As benefit you will receive exclusive research results and clear recommendations for action. We will further inform you about our future research on organizational resilience of healthcare systems.

Participation is voluntary and absolutely anonymously. The interviews will be recorded and processed in accordance to current general data protection regulation (GDPR).

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you are interested in our study:

Nina Füreder          Phone: +43 732 2468 4472     E-Mail: nina.fuereder@jku.at

Charlotte Förster    Phone: +49 371 531-36855     E-Mail: charlotte.foerster@wiwi.tu-chemnitz.de

We look forward to hearing from you!