Decentralization and decomposability: determinants of responsive crisis deployment

E. de Waard, H.W. Volberda, J.M.M.L. Soeters

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Crisis management entails among other things developing organizational systems that are capable of reacting to unpredictable and different types of crises. It also involves designing cohesive operational elements to deal with the local dynamics of an actual crisis situation. This challenge of responsiveness – where organizations simultaneously need to react to change demands of different task environments – has hardly been investigated in management theory. The purpose of this paper is to initiate to shed more light on this blind spot.
Modular organizing and organizational sensing are introduced as key drivers of organizational responsiveness. Based on a large-scale survey among 1,200 senior officers the study investigates how these two variables have influenced the responsiveness of the Netherlands armed forces for crisis response deployment.
The findings indicate that the level of modularization is an important facilitator of organizational responsiveness. Organizational systems that are made up of semi-autonomous work groups are in a better position to simultaneously live up to the change demands of different environmental levels than organizations that follow a fine-grained modularization approach.
It uses the military crisis response organization as an exemplary case for project-based organzations in general to take advantage of.
Keywords: Crisis management, Responsiveness, Defence, Modular design, Organizational sensing
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)380-404
JournalInternational Journal of Managing Projects in Business
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2014


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