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Special Issue "Resilient Businesses: Assessment, Approaches and Technology"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Economic, Business and Management Aspects of Sustainability".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 November 2015)

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Isabel Ramos

Knowledge Management and Innovation, Escola de Engenharia, Dept. Sistemas de Informação, Universidade do Minho, 4805-058 Guimarães, Portugal
Website | E-Mail
Phone: +351 964389901
Fax: +351 253 510300
Interests: Information Systems, Open Innovation, Knowledge Management, Organizational resilience
Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Rui Dinis Sousa

Escola de Engenharia, Dept. Sistemas de Informação, Universidade do Minho, 4805-058 Guimarães, Portugal
Website | E-Mail
Phone: +351 253 510316
Fax: +351 253 510300
Interests: organizational resilience, adoption and diffusion of information systems and technology, business processes management

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

This Special Issue will comprise a selection of papers addressing approaches and tools for assessing and improving business resiliency. Research papers address the multifaceted phenomena of managing the collective and of the distributed capacities required to (1) anticipate potentially disruptive events; (2) avoid or prevent their occurrence; (3) plan and prepare for disruption in order to protect the business; and (4) recover to a new, fully functional state and assure continued operations. Covered topics include the definition of the concept of business resilience, the identification of factors affecting resilience, measurement tools for assessing business resilience, principles guiding the design of resilient businesses, challenges to consider when implementing changes for increasing business resilience (cognitive, strategic, technological, political, and ideological), resilience simulation models, resilience assessment tools, information systems for supporting the resilience of businesses, business continuity, and risk management, among others. Papers selected for this Special Issue are subject to a rigorous peer review procedure with the aim of rapid and wide dissemination of research results, developments, and applications.

Prof. Dr. Isabel Ramos
Prof. Dr. Rui Dinis Sousa
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


Keywords

  • business resiliency
  • resilience indicators
  • resilience principles
  • value chain resilience
  • business continuity
  • crisis management
  • information systems for resilient businesses

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle Sustainable Refugee Migration: A Rethink towards a Positive Capability Approach
Sustainability 2016, 8(5), 451; doi:10.3390/su8050451
Received: 1 December 2015 / Revised: 22 April 2016 / Accepted: 22 April 2016 / Published: 6 May 2016
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (810 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
A major challenge facing many countries around the world is how to sustainably address the issues of increased numbers of refugee migrants. The refugee migrant “issue” is often heavily political as a high density of migrants in local areas impacts communities (e.g., disrupting
[...] Read more.
A major challenge facing many countries around the world is how to sustainably address the issues of increased numbers of refugee migrants. The refugee migrant “issue” is often heavily political as a high density of migrants in local areas impacts communities (e.g., disrupting local employment, service and culture). Different migrants come with different “baggage” and needs which can be a significant draw on the hosting communities’ resources. This paper argues that sustainable long-term solutions to refugee migrants will require a rethink to the existing dominant models of containment and charity. The paper draws upon insights from a study of a large refugee camp in Jordan over a three-and-a-half-year period, and historical cases of refugee migration. The paper presents a sustainable model that develops long-term capability for the various stakeholder groups. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Resilient Businesses: Assessment, Approaches and Technology)
Open AccessArticle The Systemic and Global Dimension of Business Resilience in a Socio-Technical Perspective
Sustainability 2016, 8(3), 209; doi:10.3390/su8030209
Received: 7 December 2015 / Revised: 5 February 2016 / Accepted: 18 February 2016 / Published: 27 February 2016
PDF Full-text (223 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This paper proposes to augment the concept of a business resilience improving process by enlarging such a process with a dimension of external action that addresses the vaster frame of systemic resilience of our societies. To this aim, I propose to widen the
[...] Read more.
This paper proposes to augment the concept of a business resilience improving process by enlarging such a process with a dimension of external action that addresses the vaster frame of systemic resilience of our societies. To this aim, I propose to widen the concept of socio-technical system (STS) to human societies, based on the idea that the development and survival of human societies has necessary social and technical factors. I also propose a concept of resilience in terms of dealing with failures of STS. Two particular cases of very large failure avoidance are considered: nuclear war and civilizational collapse, and I propose that such cases should be present in the referred dimension of external action of any business resilience program. Because the action of public governments and their cooperation is crucial for advancing global systemic resilience, I suggest that businesses should analyze and model the decisions of governments in a wider context of naturally occurring cooperating and conflicting human groups. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Resilient Businesses: Assessment, Approaches and Technology)
Open AccessArticle The Resilience of a Small Company and the Grounds of Capitalism: Thriving on Non-Knowledgeable Ground
Sustainability 2016, 8(1), 74; doi:10.3390/su8010074
Received: 30 November 2015 / Revised: 4 January 2016 / Accepted: 6 January 2016 / Published: 13 January 2016
PDF Full-text (859 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
A case about a small company in Portugal enables an analysis of the resilience of small companies undergoing open innovation environments. Successfully facing non-knowledgeable grounds―which means insecurity, likelihood of disruption risk and uncertainty—is only possible through constant adaptation, by which a company can
[...] Read more.
A case about a small company in Portugal enables an analysis of the resilience of small companies undergoing open innovation environments. Successfully facing non-knowledgeable grounds―which means insecurity, likelihood of disruption risk and uncertainty—is only possible through constant adaptation, by which a company can thrive and, through rational thinking, enable continuity. This study shows that open innovation achieved through agile partnerships can provide the resources and synergies necessary for the continued adaptation of small businesses to environments of high uncertainty. An ability to innovatively adapt is a central characteristic of resilient companies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Resilient Businesses: Assessment, Approaches and Technology)
Open AccessArticle Organizational Green IT Adoption: Concept and Evidence
Sustainability 2015, 7(12), 16737-16755; doi:10.3390/su71215843
Received: 24 June 2015 / Revised: 27 September 2015 / Accepted: 14 December 2015 / Published: 18 December 2015
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (381 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Green IT has emerged as an important research topic in information systems and in other areas, such as business sustainability management. Some progress has been made in our understandings of green IT in a wide area of research topics, ranging from the green
[...] Read more.
Green IT has emerged as an important research topic in information systems and in other areas, such as business sustainability management. Some progress has been made in our understandings of green IT in a wide area of research topics, ranging from the green IT definition to the motivation for adopting green IT by organizations. This paper provides a holistic review and explanation of why organizations adopt green IT. Based on an extensive review of extant studies and a broad theoretical foundation, the paper presents a theoretical framework on organizational green IT adoption (OGITA). For researchers, the study provides a comprehensive review of previous green IT adoption studies and a roadmap for future research. For practitioners, the study provides managers and policy makers a systematic analytical framework in guiding their business decisions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Resilient Businesses: Assessment, Approaches and Technology)
Open AccessArticle Modelling and Enhancement of Organizational Resilience Potential in Process Industry SMEs
Sustainability 2015, 7(12), 16483-16497; doi:10.3390/su71215828
Received: 2 October 2015 / Revised: 7 December 2015 / Accepted: 10 December 2015 / Published: 14 December 2015
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (2010 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The business environment is rapidly changing and puts pressure on enterprises to find effective ways to survive and develop. Since it is almost impossible to identify the multitude of complex conditions and business risks, an organization has to build its resilience in order
[...] Read more.
The business environment is rapidly changing and puts pressure on enterprises to find effective ways to survive and develop. Since it is almost impossible to identify the multitude of complex conditions and business risks, an organization has to build its resilience in order to be able to overcome issues and achieve long term sustainability. This paper contributes by establishing a two-step model for assessment and enhancement of organizational resilience potential oriented towards Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in the process industry. Using a dynamic modelling technique and statistical tools, a sample of 120 SMEs in Serbia has been developed as a testing base, and one randomly selected enterprise was used for model testing and verification. Uncertainties regarding the relative importance of organizational resilience potential factors (ORPFs) and their value at each level of business are described by pre-defined linguistic expressions. The calculation of the relative importance of ORPFs for each business level is stated as a fuzzy group decision making problem. First, the weighted ORPFs’ values and resilience potential at each business level are determined. In the second step, near optimal enhancement of ORPFs’ values is achieved by applying a genetic algorithm (GA). Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Resilient Businesses: Assessment, Approaches and Technology)
Open AccessArticle The Dynamic Relationship between Growth and Profitability under Long-Term Recession: The Case of Korean Construction Companies
Sustainability 2015, 7(12), 15982-15998; doi:10.3390/su71215796
Received: 1 October 2015 / Revised: 15 November 2015 / Accepted: 24 November 2015 / Published: 2 December 2015
PDF Full-text (422 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
We conducted an empirical analysis of the dynamic relationship between growth and profitability for small- and medium-sized construction companies that faced long-term economic stagnation in Korea. The period of the analysis spanned 2000 to 2014, and the full period was divided into two
[...] Read more.
We conducted an empirical analysis of the dynamic relationship between growth and profitability for small- and medium-sized construction companies that faced long-term economic stagnation in Korea. The period of the analysis spanned 2000 to 2014, and the full period was divided into two halves: before the 2008 global financial crisis and after it. Our empirical model was based on the system generalized method of moments model, and 264 construction companies were used as the study sample. The results of the empirical analysis are as follows. (1) A profitability-driven management strategy limits company growth, thus prolonging the economic downturn; (2) When the macroeconomic environment is relatively stable, high growth in the previous period fosters profitability in the current period. This implies that the phenomenon of dynamic increasing returns is present in the Korean construction industry, and learning through growth enhances productivity and profitability. Consequentially, a strategy oriented towards short-term profitability (popular with small- and medium-sized Korean construction companies) makes the corporate management less resilient, causing them to select “de-growth” during the long-term stagnation by decreasing their scale of operations. Accordingly, it is important for companies to maintain the balance between growth and profitability. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Resilient Businesses: Assessment, Approaches and Technology)
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Planned Papers

The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.

Title: Micro-firms’ Resilience and the Grounds of Capitalism. Thriving in a Non-knowledgeable Ground
Authors: Margarida Cardoso and Isabel Ramos
Affiliation: ALGORITMI, University of Minho, Portugal
An inspiring note on resilience comes from Weber, in The protestant ethic and the spirit of capitalism (2001[1930]). Through a thorough and in some ways controversial analysis of Benjamin Franklin thoughts, Weber gives a clue to the relevance of resilience for the capitalist society, specifically the resilience of the capitalist enterprise:
“Unlimited greed for gain is not in the least identical with capitalism, and is still less its spirit. Capitalism may even be identical with the restraint, or at least a rational tempering, of this irrational impulse. But capitalism is identical with the pursuit of profit, and forever renewed profit, by means of continuous, rational, capitalistic enterprise.” (2001[1930]: xxxi-xxxii).
This paragraph gives clues to what are the key words for the present work: renewal, continuity, rationality—even reinvention, and how these words get related to the openness movement in micro-enterprises.
Abstract: Accordingly, Giddens’ interpretation of Weber states that “A rationalised capitalistic enterprise implies two things: a disciplined labour force, and the regularised investment of capital.” (2001[1930]: xi).
Beyond these two factors, including more than just a disciplined labor force, a trained one, and the regularized investment of capital, one thing has been added progressively, as context has been changing: society is probably based on non-knowledgeable grounds and this implies, as Innenarity says, that we are surrounded by "insecurity, likelihood, risk and uncertainty" (Innerarity in Brey, Innerarity & Mayos, 2009: 43, free translation). Social institutions and particularly enterprises which need knowledge to thrive, such as the innovative ones, become aware of the lack of knowledge and so being some, such as innovative micro-firms, must indeed learn to manage the various manifestations of non-knowledge (Innerarity in Brey, Innerarity & Mayos, 2009: 43, free translation). The question rather becomes how these micro-firms enable the very same continuity described by Weber in his master oeuvre. We propose to demonstrate that this can occur through a process of knowledge mapping in a rather topological way, which implies finding the knowledge paths which enable innovation and profit, as well as the continuity of the enterprise itself, though not singularly but in alliance with others. These knowledge paths come either from the adoption of different strategies, or the development of a series of “(…)distributed innovation process(es) based on purposively managed knowledge flows across organizational boundaries, using pecuniary and non-pecuniary mechanisms in line with the organization business model” (Chesbrough & Bogers, 2014). So being, open innovation enables micro-firms to survive, to continue, and to thrive in a collaborative way, allied to other micro-firms.

Title: Public-Private Partnerships: Enhancing and Suppressing Business Resiliency
Authors: Kevin C. Desouza 1 and Kendra L. Smith 2
Affiliations: 1 Arizona State University, USA
2
Gallaudet University, USA
Abstract: Business resiliency is paramount to economic and social continuity in any country. To ensure business resiliency, efforts that engage both the public and private sector through public-private partnerships (PPP) are necessary. Connected socially, economically, and environmentally, resiliency requires efforts that span sectors and geographical boundaries. However, there are aspects of PPP relationships that can suppress business resiliency. In fact, the more interconnected the world becomes the most complex it becomes for businesses to achieve resiliency when perturbations occur.
Issues such as urbanization, environmental degradation, economic development, community development, public policy, and infrastructure account for several elements of business resiliency. In the past, we have seen several examples of PPP networks enhance and/or suppress business resilience. In this paper, we take a multi-case study approach to study recent cases of businesses that have experienced a perturbation and track the PPP elements that either contributed to or detracted from its resilience.

Title: The Gist of Systemic Resilience for Businesses
Author: Paulo Garrido
Affiliation: ALGORITMI, University of Minho, Portugal
Abstract: This paper presents a definition for a business as a unit of a generalized production system. Based on the definition, one shows that the generation of main risks endangering businesses are in the current situation out of their control, given that security against those risks depends on the legal framework and the public governance. A framework for how ideally these should be conformed is suggested. Inside this envelope it makes enhanced sense that businesses develop plans for increased resilience towards external shocks and catastrophic events. The union of the social encompassing resilience guaranteed by public governance together with the more focused business resilience makes what is termed systemic resilience.

Title: From System Dependability to Government Resilience—Crisis Management through Electronic Governance
Authors: Tomasz Janowski and Elsa Estevez
Affiliation: United Nations University Operating Unit on Policy-Driven Electronic Governance (UNU-EGOV), Portugal
Abstract: Electronic Governance is about the use of digital technology to transform the working of government organizations and their relationships with citizens, businesses and one another in order to achieve a range of high-value public goals like, e.g. effective delivery of public services, reducing inequalities in the society, building trust between government and citizens, or supporting the development of knowledge-based economy. Based on research and policy literature review, and relying on the concepts and methods originating in the system dependability theory, this paper presents the results of a systematic study of the use of Electronic Governance to increase the capacity of public administrations to manage (i.e. prevent, contain and recover from) security, economic, societal, political, environmental and other kinds of crisis situations that adversely affect societies and territories under their jurisdiction. After establishing the state-of-research and state-of-practice in Electronic Governance for Crisis Management, the paper concludes with policy recommendations and directions for further research.

Title: Lean Principles as Resilience Enablers
Author: José Dinis-Carvalho e Isabel Ramos
Affiliation: ALGORITMI, University of Minho, Portugal
Abstract: An organization is more resilient if rapidly returns to its normal performance bouncing back from a large disruption. The most important ways to achieve resilience is through redundancy, flexibility and culture. Toyota Company has proved to be a very resilient organization for the last 60 years, following a set of concepts and principles created in the 1950s under the name “Toyota Production System”. The objective of this article is to determine how the concepts and principles of Toyota Production System (also known as lean production) are effective in creating resilient organizations and the degree of focus on redundancy, flexibility or culture. Each concept and principle of lean production is evaluated regarding its impact in building resilience. A set of indicators for organizational resilience are used to support the evaluation. The paper proposes an evaluation framework grounded in a literature review in the areas of lean production and organizational resilience.

Title: Modelling and Enhancement of Organizational Resilience Potential in Process Industry SMEs
Authors:
Slavko Arsovski 1, Goran Putnik 2, Zora Arsovski 1, Danijela Tadić 1, Aleksandar Aleksić 1, Aleksandar Đorđević 1
Affiliations:
1 Faculty of Engineering, University of Kragujevac, Kragujevac, Serbia; 2 Universidade do Minho, Guimaraes, Portugal
Abstract:
A business environment is rapidly changing and makes pressure in enterprises to find effective way for surviving and development, especially for Small and Medium Enterprises (SME). Since it is almost impossible to identify all complex conditions and business risks, an organization (especially small and medium enterprises) has to build its resilience potential in order to be able to overcome all issues and achieve long term sustainability. This paper contributes with a two-step model for assessment and enhancement of organizational resilience potential oriented towards SMEs in the process industry. Using a technique of dynamic modelling and statistical tools, the sample of 120 SMEs in Serbia has been developed as a testing base and one randomly selected enterprise was used for model testing and verification. In the modelling process, quality approach for sustainability modelling based on ISO 9004:2007 standard, with strategic and operational sustainability indicators has been employed. Uncertainties in the relative importance of organizational resilience potential factors (ORPFs) and their values on the level of each business process are described by pre-defined linguistic expressions, which are modelled by trapezoidal fuzzy numbers (TrFNs). A quality approach is also included in organizational resilience model through including QMS (Quality Management System). The calculation of the relative importance of ORPFs on the level of each business process is stated as a fuzzy group decision making problem. In the first step of the proposed model, weighted ORPF’s values and resilience potential at the each business process level are determined. In the second step, near optimal enhancement of ORPF’s values are given by applying genetic algorithm (GA).
Keywords: organizational resilience; fuzzy sets; genetic algorithm; improvement strategy

Title: Combining Resilience and Agility to Sustain Competitiveness in Turbulent Environments—The Model of a Dynamic SME
Authors: Klaus North 1,* and Gregorio Varvakis 2
Affiliations: 1 Wiesbaden Business School, Hochschule RheinMain, Bleichstr, 44, D-65183 Wiesbaden, Germany; E-Mail: Klaus.North@hs-rm.de
2 Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, Knowledge Management and Engineering Program, Florianopolis, Brazil; E-Mail: g.varvakis@ufsc.br
Keywords: SMEs; turbulent environment; dynamic capabilities; project learning
Abstract: To sustain competitiveness in turbulent environments SMEs face major challenges due to their limited human, organizational and financial resources and capabilities. Owner–managers are overloaded by daily business and are pressed to delegate and integrate new employees (Van Bruystegem et al 2008). While striving to cope with current business SMEs tend to lose grip on future development and thus deplete resources while growing in an often uncoordinated manner. On the other hand periods of growth can be quickly followed by periods of decline. Hence the need to learn (Holt and Mcpherson 2006) and adapt to turbulent environments (Detarsio, North, Ormaetxea 2013). This requires resilience to withstand current crises and agility to quickly exploit and explore opportunities provided by changes in the business environment. This requires SMEs to develop “dynamic capabilities” (e.g. Teece et al. 1997).
This paper reports the results of a four year European-Latin American action research project (www.dynamic-sme.org) studying and creating resilient and agile practices of SMEs to cope with turbulent environments in European and Latin American contexts.  Based on a literature review, empirical data, case studies and action research findings a model of a “dynamic SME” will be discussed in the paper. Furthermore, in the project a number of instruments have been developed to support SMEs in developing resilient and agile behaviours.
One of these instruments to operationalise dynamic capabilities in SMEs is the “Learning to grow” methodology developed by Hardwig, Bergstermann and North (2011) and transferred internationally. The methodology draws on deliberate learning as a means of developing dynamic capabilities (Zollo and Winter 2002) and applies project-based learning (Scarbrough et al, 2004) closely linked to business challenges. Following a structured analysis of growth capabilities and deficits by means of a “wheel of growth” the owner-manager defines a strategic growth project that has a short to medium term impact on business performance and in parallel serves as a learning challenge. To this effect the project is delegated by the manager-owner to a team of employees who define their learning objectives to be accomplished and carry-out the project conceived as a learning journey over a period of 6 to 9 months. The whole process is supported by a facilitator and is carried-out by a network of about 10 SMEs whose teams meet to exchange experiences and run joint learning sessions. Evaluations carried-out demonstrate that the learning projects let to significant business results (p.e. conquering new markets, adding new services to products, improving processes, productivity and quality) as well as enhancing organisational capabilities amongst which are improved team work, better problem solving, enhanced communication , freeing of owner-manager from daily routine tasks, development of leadership capabilities of middle managers, entrepreneurial thinking of employees. The full paper will present detailed results.

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