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The 2010 and 2011 canterbury earthquakes and organisational learning at the university of canterbury
The 2010 and 2011 canterbury earthquakes and organisational learning at the university of canterbury
The 2010 and 2011 canterbury earthquakes and organisational learning at the university of canterbury
The 2010 and 2011 canterbury earthquakes and organisational learning at the university of canterbury
The 2010 and 2011 canterbury earthquakes and organisational learning at the university of canterbury
The 2010 and 2011 canterbury earthquakes and organisational learning at the university of canterbury
The 2010 and 2011 canterbury earthquakes and organisational learning at the university of canterbury
The 2010 and 2011 canterbury earthquakes and organisational learning at the university of canterbury
The 2010 and 2011 canterbury earthquakes and organisational learning at the university of canterbury
The 2010 and 2011 canterbury earthquakes and organisational learning at the university of canterbury
The 2010 and 2011 canterbury earthquakes and organisational learning at the university of canterbury
The 2010 and 2011 canterbury earthquakes and organisational learning at the university of canterbury
The 2010 and 2011 canterbury earthquakes and organisational learning at the university of canterbury
The 2010 and 2011 canterbury earthquakes and organisational learning at the university of canterbury
The 2010 and 2011 canterbury earthquakes and organisational learning at the university of canterbury
The 2010 and 2011 canterbury earthquakes and organisational learning at the university of canterbury
The 2010 and 2011 canterbury earthquakes and organisational learning at the university of canterbury
The 2010 and 2011 canterbury earthquakes and organisational learning at the university of canterbury
The 2010 and 2011 canterbury earthquakes and organisational learning at the university of canterbury
The 2010 and 2011 canterbury earthquakes and organisational learning at the university of canterbury
The 2010 and 2011 canterbury earthquakes and organisational learning at the university of canterbury
The 2010 and 2011 canterbury earthquakes and organisational learning at the university of canterbury
The 2010 and 2011 canterbury earthquakes and organisational learning at the university of canterbury
The 2010 and 2011 canterbury earthquakes and organisational learning at the university of canterbury
The 2010 and 2011 canterbury earthquakes and organisational learning at the university of canterbury
The 2010 and 2011 canterbury earthquakes and organisational learning at the university of canterbury
The 2010 and 2011 canterbury earthquakes and organisational learning at the university of canterbury
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The 2010 and 2011 canterbury earthquakes and organisational learning at the university of canterbury

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In September 2010 and again in February 2011, the city of Christchurch was rocked by earthquakes of magnitude 7.1 and 6.3 respectively. The second earthquake was shallow and caused extensive damage …

In September 2010 and again in February 2011, the city of Christchurch was rocked by earthquakes of magnitude 7.1 and 6.3 respectively. The second earthquake was shallow and caused extensive damage and loss of life, destroying most of the Central Business District. This paper focuses on recovery management at the University of Canterbury, exploring the extent to which the senior management team learned lessons from the September event which informed the way that the recovery was managed after the February earthquake. It examines the counter-intuitive possibility that successfully dealing with a prior, lesser event, may not necessarily better equip managers to deal with a subsequent, more extreme event.

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  • 1. The 2010 and 2011 Canterbury Earthquakes and organisational learning at the University of Canterbury: does practice make perfect? Professor Nigel Healey, Pro-Vice-Chancellor, NottinghamTrent University / Adjunct Professor, University of Canterbury
  • 2. Health warning (1)• The limitations of critical self-reflection as a research methodology• The illusion of objectivity in ethnographic studies: – „candid ethnographer‟ – „chaste ethnographer‟ – „fair ethnographer‟ – „literary ethnographer‟• Nonetheless… …this approach provides rich insights into understanding the management of a natural disaster which could not be achieved by an alternative, more remote methodology07 February 2013 2
  • 3. Health warning (2)• Aim is not to assess whether management could have done „better‟ with 20:20 hindsight – the management team worked tirelessly and professionally, using their best judgement in a difficult situation – it is always be possible to choose better strategies ex-post, based on full information, than ex-ante, based on partial information• Aim is to examine, using the 2010 and 2011 Canterbury earthquakes as a case study, whether the successful management of a prior, lesser crisis better prepares managers to deal with a subsequent, greater crisis• Interesting question: because the answer seems so intuitively obvious07 February 2013 3
  • 4. Overview• University of Canterbury• The 2010 and 2011 earthquakes• Managing after the major earthquakes – September 4, 2010 – February 22, 2011• The changed environment post February 22• The impact of the changed environment• Unintended consequences• Conclusions07 February 2013 4
  • 5. The University of Canterbury pre-September 4,2010• Medium-sized, public comprehensive university• 15,362 enrolments (EFTS) in 2010, of which: – 13,960 domestic students – 1,402 international students (9.2% of the total)• Based in western suburbs of Christchurch• Christchurch is a city of 325,000 people – Major international tourist gateway – Major international student destination: two universities, one polytechnic and number of prestigious high schools which attract international students07 February 2013 5
  • 6. The 2010 and 2011 earthquakes • Pacific Plate moves 37-47mm pa against the Australian Plate • 37-47mm per year = 3.7-4.7m per century • Many of the fault systems from Alpine Fault are not fully mapped • “Most probable date of next big shock is tomorrow” • Strict building codes since 1931 Hawke‟s Bay earthquake (M7.8)07 February 2013 6
  • 7. The September 4, 2010 earthquake• M7.1 at 4:35am on Saturday, September 4, 2010• Epicentre 40km west of Christchurch, near the town of Darfield• 2 injuries, no directly-attributable deaths• Earthquake occurred during mid-semester break07 February 2013 7
  • 8. The September 4, 2010 earthquake07 February 2013 8
  • 9. The February 22, 2011 earthquake• M6.3 at 12:51pm on Tuesday, 22 February 2011• Epicentre 10km south-east of Christchurch• 181 fatalities, from 20 countries; approximately 2,000 injured• Fatalities included many Japanese, Chinese and other international students studying English in a collapsed building in the city• Second day of academic year• Height of tourist season07 February 2013 9
  • 10. The February 22, 2011 earthquake07 February 2013 10
  • 11. The February 22, 2011 earthquake Liquefaction07 February 2013 11
  • 12. The 2010 and 2011 Canterbury earthquakes incontext (nb, Richter scale is logarithmic: M6 is 10x M5) 07 February 2013 12
  • 13. Managing after the earthquakes• UC had a very sophisticated emergency management system pre-September 4 with: – Incident Management Team – Emergency Management Centre (generator, secure server, CCTV, two-way radio, remote campus control) – Strategic Emergency Management Team• Management teams had practised for emergencies using simulations – earthquake, plane hitting the campus, bomb at graduation, shooter on campus• Emergency response mobilised instantly after both major earthquakes07 February 2013 13
  • 14. Key question: does successfully managing aprior, lesser crisis better prepare organisationsto manage a subsequent, greater crisis?• Considerable management literature: – ‘Failing to learn and learning to fail (intelligently): How great organizations put failure to work to improve and innovate’ (Mark Cannon and Amy Edmondson) – ‘Lessons we don’t learn: A study of the lessons of disasters, why we repeat them, and how we can learn them’ (Amy Donahue and Robert Tuohy)• Most of the literature focuses on obstacles to learning: organisational amnesia• Canterbury earthquakes provide a valuable case study of an organisation recovering from two similar disasters within five months07 February 2013 14
  • 15. Managing after September 4• University closed for one week• Building checklist: – checked by engineers for structural integrity – inspected by volunteer managers for hazards – cleaned up by volunteer staff• Most buildings reopened within one week• General sense of relief that such a major earthquake caused no loss of life and little structural damage• Second semester timetable slightly adjusted to allow for missed week, no discernable impact on student academic performance in end-of-semester examinations07 February 2013 15
  • 16. Managing after February 22 (1)• View established early in the SEMT that we had a successful „roadmap‟ for managing recovery• Recovery management almost immediately jumped to the end-point reached post-September 4: – twice daily meetings of IMT and SEMT discontinued – communications to staff restricted to „customised‟ corporate messages – messages limited to what was known to be true• …and SEMT immediately back on sushi diet07 February 2013 16
  • 17. Managing after February 22 (2)• Managers acted professionally and in good faith• But in applying lessons of September 4: – recovery management arguably set in a more inflexible framework post-February 22… – …despite operating in a very different environment07 February 2013 17
  • 18. The changed environment post-February 22• Many deaths and injuries – almost everyone at UC knew someone who had died• Staff fatigued after September 4• Many staff (and students) living in damaged homes without power, water or sewage – degraded resiliency• Two major buildings declared „safe‟ after September 4 collapsed on February 22 – loss of public trust in engineering assessments• Widespread sense of despair – many people left Christchurch to avoid aftershocks07 February 2013 18
  • 19. The changed environment: Canterbury Memorial Day, March 18, one week after Japanese tsunami07 February 2013 19
  • 20. Impact of the changed environment• Building checklist on campus: – amended to include modelling for integrity in event of another major earthquake (positive response) – but lengthy process – many buildings required repairs with uncertain timelines• Corporate messages to staff inevitably provided limited information• Very limited opportunities to bring staff together to provide mutual support – important with so many foreign staff• Decision-making controlled by senior management for much longer than post-September 407 February 2013 20
  • 21. Some unintended consequences• Less staff engagement in the recovery process than post- September 4• Frustration by academic staff over both communications and decision-making• Academic Board went through a period of difficult relations with senior management07 February 2013 21
  • 22. But senior management did act decisively toaddress severity of crisis UC faced• University faced crippling loss of student enrolments• Senior management moved quickly to: – order large number of marquees so that teaching could resume on campus within three weeks – begin construction of approximately 100 portacoms (12m x 12m units) to provide replacement open plan offices, teaching rooms and computer labs – arrange for UC students to study at other NZ and Australian university as „no fee‟ exchange students in semester I• Facebook was used effectively, as post-September 4, for two- way communications with students07 February 2013 22
  • 23. The impact on domestic Equivalent Full-TimeStudents -1,500 EFTS = -11%07 February 2013 23
  • 24. The impact on international Equivalent Full-Time Students -400 EFTS = -30%07 February 2013 24
  • 25. And a huge positive outcome… 07 February 2013 25
  • 26. Conclusions (1)• UC had strong disaster management systems in place pre- September 4• Widely recognised that UC dealt well with the September 4 earthquake• February 22 earthquake was profoundly more devastating• Senior management acted to deal with the greater crisis, drawing on the experience of September 4• Key question: – did the learning from September 4 make the organisation better able to manage post-February 22? – or did the learning from September make the organisation less flexible in adapting to a very different operating environment?07 February 2013 26
  • 27. Conclusions (2)• Managing through a disaster may be like managing through a divorce• Managing one divorce better prepares you for the operational details of the next (lawyers, financial settlements, etc)• But every divorce has a different context and dynamic• Successfully managing an amicable divorce may: – help you with the operational details next time – but make you less able to deal with the unexpected acrimony of your next divorce07 February 2013 27

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