Role of crisis management simulation exercises in influencing crisis management team performance, in terms of developing learning and developing foresight
Item statusRestricted Access
Embargo end date04/04/2023
Crises are a phenomenon capable of shattering the social world and destroying the physical one. Organisational crises include explosions, product recalls, cyber-attacks, and more recently the rapid spread of the novel coronavirus – Covid 19. A Crisis Management Team (CMT), typically chosen from top management, performs a command and control role, and manages such crises on behalf of their organisation. CMTs must learn from their crisis experience and the crisis experiences of other organisations, to help combat inherent vulnerabilities and weakness in their organisations, and mitigate against future crises. Crisis management simulation exercises (CMSE) can assist the CMTs with this learning challenge. The research aim of this research study is to increase understanding of the role of Crisis Management Simulation Exercises (CMSE) in influencing Crisis Management Team (CMT) performance. Crisis theorists and practitioners have highlighted the need for more detailed empirical accounts regarding the learning developed by CMTs during CMSEs. They have also called for a better understanding of how learnings gained in hindsight, can assist with developing the foresight required to combat future crises. As a result, these two underdeveloped areas in the relevant literature help to focus the research study in terms of the learning and foresight developed by the CMTs, and achieve the research aim. Nine CMTs that had engaged in full-scale, high-fidelity CMSEs were selected for the research study. A detailed case study was developed for each CMT comprising a descriptive account of their performance in a bespoke CMSE. An Initial Crisis Management Simulation Exercise Research Model (ICMSERM) was used to ensure continuity between the descriptive accounts. The descriptive accounts were analysed, and the findings were discussed in terms of the learning and foresight developed by the CMTs. The findings from the research analysis in terms of the learning developed by the CMTs revealed that CMTs must maintain a good relationship with their Crisis Communications Teams (CCT), their Resilience Teams, and between their Resilience Teams and Risk Management Teams. The CMTs must ensure they employ strategic thinking during crises, and ensure emergent crisis response strategies are generated and appropriately coordinated during a crisis event. In addition, various educational learning models helped demonstrate how the CMTs developed experiential and reflective learning during the CMSEs. It was also evidenced that that CMTs incrementally learn by engaging in an increasing number of CMSEs over time. The findings from the research analysis in terms of the foresight developed by the CMTs revealed that the common themes of learnings developed by the CMTs could be grouped together for ease of discussion as: Governance; Planning; Risk; Command and Control; Decision-Making; Communications; Information; Opportunities; Psychology; and Strategy. These were termed ‘foresight factors’, as they were gained in hindsight, however, could be used with foresight, to influence the successful conduct of crisis management, and were broad areas that encompassed potential vulnerabilities and weakness in an organisation. It was also proposed that these foresight factors be used as the basis of an evaluation criteria for future CMSEs. In addition, the findings from the research analysis also demonstrated how CMT values, beliefs and assumptions influence the learning and foresight developed by CMTs during their engagement in CMSEs. Finally, the researcher modified the ICMSERM using some of the findings from the research analysis, and put forward a Final Crisis Management Simulation Exercise Research Model (FCMSERM). The researcher believes the FCMSERM could be used to design and deliver future CMSEs. Such CMSEs would help the CMTs understand how to benefit from crises in terms of developing learning, and developing foresight, and help CMTs to build a genuine learning culture in their organisations, and therefore, help prevent recurring crises, and mitigate and prepare for future crises.