Resilience organizing: a multilevel communication framework

Marya L. Doerfel, Minkyung Kim, Melanie Kwestel, Hyunsook Yoon, Justine Quow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study advances communication-centered resilience theory by examining adaptive capacity of nonprofit networks impacted by Hurricane Harvey in 2017. Data show how formal structures set up conditions for adaptive/informal organizing. This highlights a quandary for disaster planning: improvising emerges from organizations having plans in place. Iterative processes between formal and informal structures expanded capacity, building a foundation for work processes to scaffold from individual to organizational to interorganizational networks. Yet some employees were personally vulnerable, revealing a multilevel dilemma: organizations were resilient even if employees were not. This study also theorizes time as an endogenous mechanism. As workers perceived less urgency, process experts broadened communication across levels, integrating more complex work processes. Resilience differed between organizations that lacked process experts, revealing their critical role across levels. Findings point to a policy-making dilemma: successful resilience processes undermine pressure on policy-makers to mitigate threats that necessitate improving resilience processes to begin with.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)605-618
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Communication
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2022


  • crisis communication
  • disaster preparedness
  • interorganizational networks
  • nonprofit organizations
  • resilience

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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