Read SUITS Policy brief 4: Organizational Resilience. How SUITS’ local authorities were prepared to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic

This SUITS policy brief aims to highlight how the transformational process of the nine local authorities involved in SUITS into learning organizations made these cities far better prepared to cope with the challenges due to the pandemic than they would otherwise have been. Due to the higher levels of organizational resilience and the awareness of individuals‘ importance during such external crises, the nine local authorities were not just trying to react to the unforeseen challenges, but were able to act with a clear pathway and to use their experiences to facilitate their learning from recent years. Of course, the pandemic could not have been foreseen, but as SUITS local authorities are becoming learning organizations, they are enhancing their organizational capacity. In so doing, they have been learning a required resilience to reduce the „complexity and confusion – of what to do best“ in the beginning of the crisis and to cope with the challenges. This advantage was of enormous relevance for the local authorities.

This policy brief paves the way for more cities to understand the relevance of becoming a learning organization and to understand the big advantages of such resilience to be able to cope with internal and external challenges in the future.  Firstly, it will outline the theoretical basis of a learning organization and organizational resilience and demonstrate the relevance of individuals‘ ability to enhance the organization’s capacity. It will outline the decisive role trust can play in an organization to allow for organizational learning and resilience. In the next part, the process of organizational change that was needed to transform the cities into learning organizations will be briefly described (for more information see Nienaber et al., 2020a; Policy Brief No. 3). Afterwards, the article compares the effects induced by the work of the SUITS project with the necessities of the changing urban environment. In so doing, it shows how organizational change aiming at more sustainable urban transport and mobility increases the cities’ resilience. Several best practice examples will allow other cities to learn from SUITS partners’ experiences for the future.

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