Every crisis creates a great deal of uncertainty for all members of an organization, including its employees. However, previous research has not thoroughly explored communication with employees during crises. To fill this gap, the author of the current study aimed to explicate the concept of organizational resilience in terms of internal publics (i.e., employees), as a resilient system, and demonstrate the beneficial impact of organizational resilience on employees’ work-role performance (i.e.,  organizational member proficiency, adaptivity, and proactivity) following a crisis. Thus, the purpose of the study was to explore positive outcomes of organizational resilience in demonstrating how resilient employees can support an organization by adapting to and initiating changes during the post-crisis recovery period. This study understands resilience as a multidimensional concept that consists of ability (competence), psychological belief (self-efficacy), and communication behaviors for sensemaking and sensegiving. Furthermore, the study explored an antecedent (organization-employee relationships) and positive outcomes (employee work-role performance) of organizational resilience after a crisis situation.

To recruit individual employees who worked for a variety of corporations, an online survey firm,, was used. The total number of participants was 816. The samples used in the study were a) all employees who worked full-time in medium and large corporations (defined as at least 300 employees); b) selected to represent the 2017 U.S. Census with respect to gender and state population levels; c) chosen to represent the 16 most prevalent industries in accordance with the 2017 Bureau of Labor Statistics of the United States Department of Labor. To measure organizational resilience in a crisis situation, brief crisis scenarios were presented, with several sentences tailored to each industry. The hypothetical crises were modeled on actual crises, so that they would seem plausible to respondents.


1) Organization-employee relationships are a positive and strong antecedent for organizational resilience. In the context of crisis situations, the unique organizational resources reflecting employees’ trust, commitment, control mutuality, and satisfaction could enhance employees’ psychological ability and belief (that is, competence and self-efficacy) to manage the crisis, as well as increase voluntary positive communication behaviors such as searching for and forwarding positive information about the organization (sensemaking and sensegiving processes).

2) After crisis situations, organizational resilience can help employees contribute to their organization through their proactive behaviors, organization member proficiency, adaptability, and proactivity. More specifically, this study revealed that employees with enhanced competence, self-efficacy, and voluntary positive communication behaviors are more likely to support the organization through their proficiency, to cope with changes (organization member adaptability), and to engage in future-directed behavior or take self-directed action to initiate changes after a crisis situation.

3) With regard to employee’s prior crisis history, this study showed those who had a similar crisis experience would be likely to be resilient in the crisis situation.

Implications for practice
Organizations and public relations practitioners should 1) be aware that resilience levels can be expected to endure during a crisis when an emphasis is placed on managing and maintaining organization-employee relationships; and 2) expect to see an increase in proactive employee work-role behaviors, such as proficiency, adaptivity, and proactivity when prioritizing the development of positive relationships.

Author(s), Title and Publication
Kim, Y. (2020). Organizational resilience and employee work-role performance after a crisis situation: exploring the effects of organizational resilience on internal crisis communication. Journal of Public Relations Research, 1-29. DOI: 10.1080/1062726X.2020.1765368

Location of Article

This article is available online at: (abstract free, purchase full article)

Heidy Modarelli handles Growth & Marketing for IPR. She has previously written for Entrepreneur, TechCrunch, The Next Web, and VentureBeat.
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