Article Title

Exploring Resilience: in the Face of Trauma


What exactly is that quality of resilience that carries people, organizations, and communities through traumatic times? As a construct, resilience is built on the underlying assumption that an individual or organization has undergone a situation of ‘significant adversity’ and has adapted positively, returning to or increasing in performance and psychological wellbeing (Riolli and Savicki Omega, 31(3): 227–233, 2003; Sutcliffe and Vogus 2003). Definitions of resilience range on a continuum from survival to adaptation to competence to healing to hardiness to robustness to wellness (Werner American Psychological Society 81–85, 1995; Masten and Coatsworth American Psychologist, 53(2): 205–220, 1998; Luthar et al. Child Development, 71(3): 573–575, 2000; Coutu Harvard Business Review, 80(5): 46–52, 2002; Maddi 2002). Resilience is an important quality for leaders who are committed to the health of organizations. Organizational health is negatively impacted by organizational trauma; parallel to individuals’ experiences, group and organizational cultures and dynamics are wounded by trauma. While leaders cannot always protect organizations from trauma, leaders can strengthen resilience, recognize when trauma occurs, address the trauma effectively, and protect the system from spiraling into traumatization (Vivian and Hormann O.D. Practitioner, 34(4): 52–57, 2002). This paper offers recommendations for addressing organizational trauma as well as strengthening resilience, individually and collectively. Stories are shared from several organizations, demonstrating the importance of leadership and resilience in the face of trauma.


Humanistic Management Journal





Publication Date


Publisher's Page

Document Type