The Crisis Management Capabilities and Preparedness of Organizations: A Study of Iranian Hospitals

Article excerpt

There is evidence from recent crises that the preparedness for and response to undesired problems on the part of organizations is directly related to their relevant capabilities and their willingness to actively manage such problems. In this context, hospitals compared to other organizations are more viable to suffer damages if a crisis occurs. This study was done at 41 Iranian hospitals in Iran, whose directors and general were each interviewed and asked questions about the hospital's capabilities to respond to crises and its preparedness for such crises. The interview responses of these subjects show that most of them were not familiar with what is involved in crisis management, although most of them did say they had crisis management plans and crisis committees in their hospitals. Most of the respondents believed that if a crisis occurred in the hospital, patients, personnel and documents will be the first victims of the crisis. The study makes clear that having a crisis plan and a crisis committee without knowledge of crisis management does not help managers to cope with undesired problems. Moreover, results show that older managers were more familiar with crisis management in other countries, defined their responsibilities to include setting up crisis committees and took crises more seriously than their younger counterparts.

Introduction

Crisis can be simply defined as a situation which is not possible to maintain. Therefore, when a crisis occurs, a change is required until we reach balance and equilibrium. In fact, if there would be no need for a change in the situation, what has happened could be regarded as an accident or an event, like a car crash. In other words, a crisis is a process that an organization may face during an unexpected threat which may lead to organizational damage. Crisis management is the process by which an organization deals with a major unpredictable event that threatens to harm the organization, its stakeholders, or the general public. Crisis management is the systematic attempt to avoid organizational crisis or to manage those crisis events that do occur (Pearson & Clair, 1998). In fact, crisis management is a technique both for avoiding emergencies and planning for the unavoidable ones, as well as a method for dealing with them when they occur (Yheung et al., 2003). Crisis is a major, unpredictable event that threatens to harm an organization and its stakeholders. Although crisis events are unpredictable, they are not unexpected (Coombs, 2004). Three elements are common to most definitions of crisis; a threat to the organization, the element of surprise, and a short decision time. The true test for any hospital executive lies in managing a crisis. A hospital crisis, by definition, is unexpected and unpleasant. No organization seeks it out; no CEO desires to face it. It is the job of a CEO to be prepared for sudden crisis and to manage them.

Types of crisis

We should be familiar with types of crisis, because each crisis requires a different strategy to handle. There are many types of crisis such as:

* Natural crisis such as earthquake, floods, and storm;

* Crisis of malevolence, such as hostility or anger toward, or seeking gain from, a company as happened in Johnson and Johnson in 1 982 in America. Tylenol medication, unfortunately, at that point one individual succeeded in lacing the drug with cyanide. Seven people died as a result, and a widespread panic ensued about how widespread the contamination might be;

* The crises in hospital emergency departments;

* Events occurring due to negligence, such as the Bhopal disaster in 2006 in India;

* Crisis due to human error, such as mistakes in software or hardware, or mistakes in calculation in building wiring installation;

* Strikes or work stoppage or when workers rebel against employers of organizations;

* Schools and crisis management; The Beslan school hostage crisis (also referred to as the Beslan school siege or Beslan massacre) was a three day hostage-taking of over 1, 100 people which ended in the deaths of over 300. …