Drivers of Organizational Responsiveness: Experiences of a Military Crisis Response Organization

  • Erik De Waard Netherlands Defense Academy Faculty of Military Sciences
  • Henk W Volberda Erasmus University Rotterdam School of Management
  • Joseph Soeters Netherlands Defense Academy Tilburg University
Keywords: Organizational responsiveness, crisis response, organization design, modularity

Abstract

The topic of organizational responsiveness – where organizations need to flexibly react to strategic and operational demands simultaneously – has been under-explored in strategic management research. Our study was initiated to shed more light on this topic, primarily by studying an organization specifically designed to handle crises. By definition, crisis response organizations have to be prepared to react to unpredictable events. Moreover, the volatility of the crisis situation itself requires a high degree of flexibility to get or keep the situation under control. The study hypothesizes modular organizing and organizational sensing to be key drivers of organizational responsiveness. Empirically, we examine the effect these two variables have on the responsiveness of the Netherlands armed forces for crisis response deployment. Findings indicate that modular organizing and organizational sensing are drivers of responsiveness. In addition, our study uncovered the importance of an organization’s level of system decomposition to responsiveness. A high degree of system granularity can lead to a predominantly inward focus whereas organizational responsiveness calls for a strong external orientation.

Author Biographies

Erik De Waard, Netherlands Defense Academy Faculty of Military Sciences

After graduating in 1994 from the Royal Netherlands Military Academy dr. E.J. (Erik) de Waard became a platoon commander in the Air Mobile Brigade. He subsequently studied business administration at Radboud University Nijmegen and fulfilled a number of operational executive functions in the world of business. Since 2001 he has worked as an assistant professor at the Netherlands Defense Academy, where he teaches organizational strategy and design. In 2010 he received his PhD from Erasmus University Rotterdam on a study on the relationship between modular design and the deployment of tailor-made military task forces.

Henk W Volberda, Erasmus University Rotterdam School of Management

Henk Volberda is Professor of Strategic Management and Business Policy and Director Knowledge Transfer at the Rotterdam School of Management. His work on strategic renewal, coevolution of firms and industries, knowledge flows, new organizational forms and innovation has been published in various journals, such as Academy of Management Journal, Business Strategy Review, Decision Support Systems, European Management Journal, European Management Review, Global Strategy Journal, Group & Organization Management,  International Studies of Management & Organization, Journal of Management Studies, Long Range Planning, and Management Science.

Joseph Soeters, Netherlands Defense Academy Tilburg University

Dr. Joseph Soeters is a professor of management and organization studies at the Netherlands Defence academy and Tilburg University. He has published widely on issues of military management and multinational cooperation in both military-related and management journals, including more than ten books with publishers such as Routledge.

Published
2013-08-20
How to Cite
De Waard, E., Volberda, H., & Soeters, J. (2013). Drivers of Organizational Responsiveness: Experiences of a Military Crisis Response Organization. Journal of Organization Design, 2(2), 1-14. https://doi.org/10.7146/jod.7850
Section
Research Article