Hogeschool Inholland en de Adaptive Cycle of Resilience
by Frank Schreurs
On 10 July 2010 the Dutch daily newspaper De Volkskrant headlined “InHolland reikte ongeoorloofd diploma's uit” (Inholland awarded unauthorized certificates). This article was the first of a sequence of articles about Inholland University of Applied Sciences. The reputation of Inholland was seriously damaged and this put Inholland into a crisis situation, threatening the viability of the organization.
Abcouwer and Parson (Abcouwer & Parson, 2011) describe in the Adaptive Cycle of Resilience four phases an organization goes through during its life: equilibrium, crisis, new combinations and business. At first sight it seems that Inholland went through some of these phases in the past years. To test this assumption a case study has been performed using the following research question:
How can the situation of Inholland be described, explained and improved by applying the Adaptive Cycle of Resilience?
Based on interviews and research using internal and external documents, the history of Inholland has been described and a time-series analysis has been performed based on development along the courses strategy, management, culture, resilience and state of mind.
The results showed that Inholland was in the equilibrium phase since the merger in 2002, from July-November 2010 it was in the crisis phase and subsequently in the phase new combinations. At the beginning of 2014 there are some signs of turning towards the business phase.
The phases of the Adaptive Cycle of Resilience can be recognized at Inholland by the development along the courses strategy, management, culture, resilience and state of mind, proving that the model turned out to be a good instrument. The description of the phase crisis may be more analogue to the release phase as described by Holling and Gunderson (Holling & Gunderson, Resilience and adaptive cycles, 2002). Furthermore it turns out to be difficult for interviewees to recognize some phases or transitions between some of the phases. To determine if these phases are visible at all or if the problem is in recognition afterwards, this research should be repeated, based on a longitudinal design.
Before 2010 Inholland did not use any type of scenario planning which was not a deliberate and conscious choice. Inholland should make an explicit, informed decision for reactive or proactive crisis management, for the advantages described in the literature, the choice for proactive crisis management and some form of scenario planning seems the obvious choice.
The steps Inholland has taken already with respect to getting in close contact with its stakeholders and focusing on improving documentation for operational control contribute to this choice and should be maintained. Inholland should consider how the early warning signals will reach the right corporate level and how these signs may be identified and acknowledged in case of a next crisis.
The managemental change at Inholland at the end of 2010 matched with the transition of Inholland to the other side of the Adaptive Cycle of Resilience, from exploitation to exploration. The recently announced leave of Doekle Terpstra, Head of the Board of Govenors, relates to the upcoming return to the exploitation phases.
Although Inholland is at the turning point of moving from new combinations towards business in the Adaptive Cycle of Resilience, getting in that phase and subsequently reaching a new equilibrium is yet uncertain. Especially the cooperation between the teaching staff and the facility service organization, old reflexes of being convulsed and reacting promptly, and students in adapted study plans pose a threat and call upon careful management attention.
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