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Synergistic triad of crisis management: leadership, knowledge management and organizational learning

Kristina Buhagiar (The Edward de Bono Institute for Creative Thinking and Innovation, University of Malta, Msida, Malta)
Amitabh Anand (Excelia Business School, CERIIM, La Rochelle, France)

International Journal of Organizational Analysis

ISSN: 1934-8835

Article publication date: 21 August 2021

Issue publication date: 31 January 2023




The prevalence of instability and crises in organizational ecosystems seems to be on the increase, with an upward trend in the occurrence of, for example, natural disasters, such as tornadoes in America, bushfires in Australia and the widespread outbreak of diseases, e.g., Covid-19. As contexts of crisis increase in frequency, the ability of organizations to adapt and effectively respond to crises has become a key necessity for organizational survival and continuity. The purpose of this paper is to explore how the repercussions of crises may be curtailed through a multidimensional crisis management approach.


This paper applies a narrative literature review and concept mapping to synthesize and establish relationships between the literature in the domains of leadership, knowledge management, learning and contexts of crisis. The output of this methodological orientation is the Integrated Crisis Management Framework, presenting a conceptualized overview of the symbiotic and intertwined manner through which leadership, knowledge management and learning contribute towards effective crisis management.


According to the analysis and the conceptual underpinnings of this paper, in contexts of crisis, leadership is generally responsible for aggregating crisis management strategies and establishing employee motivation. Knowledge management, on the other hand, provides the infrastructure necessary for calculated yet rapid decision-making. Similarly, in times of crisis, learning is a prerequisite for the development of a “learningful” organization, which contributes towards crisis management by serving as the organization's “memory” – where lessons learned from previous crises suffice to guide future crisis response.


The literature in crisis management reveals that existing crisis management models and frameworks generally consider crisis from a unidimensional perspective, neglecting to account for the multifaceted nature of crises, and the numerous attributes necessary to overcome contexts of crisis. To address this gap in the literature, this paper proposes a multidimensional conceptualization of crisis management through combining three core elements, including leadership, learning and knowledge management. The novelty of this paper is an Integrated Crisis Management Framework, and eight empirical propositions, which act as an impetus for future research.



The authors would like to thank the editor and anonymous reviewers for their constructive feedback and support in this manuscript.


Buhagiar, K. and Anand, A. (2023), "Synergistic triad of crisis management: leadership, knowledge management and organizational learning", International Journal of Organizational Analysis, Vol. 31 No. 2, pp. 412-429.



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