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Research helping national organisations to recover faster

University of Canterbury research helping national organisations to recover faster

April 10, 2014

A University of Canterbury research team is working with 11 key national infrastructure organisations exploring ways to increase their overall organisational resilience.

Their project could save lives in times of disaster and should significantly increase the recovery and disaster-handling capabilities of lifeline organisations in the event of disasters.

Researchers Dr Bernard Walker and Associate Professor Venkataraman Nilakant are conducting in-depth case studies.

The Christchurch earthquakes damaged 124 kilometres of water mains, 52 percent of all roads, 300 kilometres of sewer pipes, and 205 major power cables. The cost of rebuilding the damaged infrastructure in Christchurch was estimated at around $2 billion.

The scale of damage would have been many times greater had the events occurred in either Auckland or Wellington, Dr Walker says.

``We are working with national organisations’ management teams to study their dynamics in terms of leadership, learning, collaboration and positive working environments.

``We’re also looking at employee resilience and wellbeing and identifying the factors that contribute to employee resilience. We are helping them implement initiatives in these areas.

``It's pretty radical research in that we form a partnership with researchers and the organisations at each of these levels.’’

The researchers have produced a booklet, Staffed or Stuffed, as a result of their research. Dr Walker says there was an urgent need for guidance on staffing matters after disasters and the booklet would help smaller and larger businesses.

``We've also produced other more detailed reports on the topic on the Resilient Organisations (ResOrgs) website. ResOrgs is a collaborative venture led by the University of Canterbury which is promoting recovery after disaster.

Professor Nilakant and Dr Walker received a $600,000 government business research grant two years ago to look at how businesses can improve following major events.


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