Resilience: the concept, a literature review and future directions

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Authors: K. Burnard, S. Dani, R. Bhamra

Publication Year: 2011


Journal: International Journal of Production Research

Volume: 49

Issue: 18

Categories: Adaptive Management, Ecology, Resilience


In an ever-more interconnected world (social, technological and environmental), no organisation can retain a competitive position and survive disruptions as an independent entity. This article provides a review of resilience literature in its widest context and later its application at an organisational level context. The origins of the concept are reported and consequently, the various fields of research are analysed. The concept is shown to remain essentially constant regardless of its field of enquiry and has much to inform the fields of organisation theory, strategy and operations management. This article identifies a number of areas for advancing resilience research, in particular: the relationship between human and organisational resilience; understanding interfaces between organisational and infrastructural resilience.

Critical Reflection

This article gives an overview of the written literature regarding the subject of resilience which is defined as: “the capability and ability of an element to return to a stable state after a disruption”. Resilience can be applied to a number of different fields like ecology, strategic management and supply chain management. The goal of this article was to show different viewpoints related to resilience from within the academic world which was done by doing an extensive literature review. This literature review on resilience resulted in multiple articles and definitions all discussing resilience in a certain context, perspective and topic. Two important aspects of resilience (vulnerability and adaptive capacity) are also discussed. The authors conclude that the found literature has a strong focus towards theories and definitions, but lacking in the actual proving of these theories in an empirical way. Therefore the authors suggest that more real world-based research is needed with a particular focus on empirical methods. The authors end the article by stating there is great potential for future research on resilience especially in the context of resilience in organizations, supply chains and SME’s.