The collective experiences of middle management when implementing a business continuity management system within their public sector organisation teams

FitzPatrick, Deborah Jane
Charania, Nadia
Coles, Eve
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Master of Emergency Management
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Auckland University of Technology

In May 2012, the International Standard Organisation (ISO) published the ISO 22301 Societal security – business continuity management systems – requirement. This outlined the standard requirements for setting up and managing a successful business continuity management system (BCMS) for any size organisation to assist with a successful continuation of critical operations through a business disruption. Business Continuity (BC) is defined as “the capability of an organisation to continue delivery of products or services at an acceptable pre-defined level following a business disruption” (ISO 22301, 2012, p. 2). A business disruption can occur anytime, interrupting an organisation’s service to customers and interested parties. Developing a BCMS is relatively new for New Zealand public sector services.

This research study was aimed to illustrate the experiences and recommendations of middle management when implementing a BCMS within their public sector organisation teams; as it is discussed in literature that a BCMS is necessary for organisational practice to ensure business continues through a business disruption. Insider action research methodology was used, providing participants an opportunity to voice their BC needs, to gain ownership of the research process and its outputs. Participants were purposively sampled including those responsible for integrating BC practice within their team. The first phase involved conducting semi-structured interviews (n=14) to gather information about their experiences implementing a BCMS. Collected data were transcribed and coded using inductive thematic analysis. The second phase consisted of workshops (n=2) to generate insights regarding how a BCMS can be implemented and applied effectively into ‘business as usual’ within the public sector organisation. The collected data generated an action plan to enhance the public sector organisation BCMS.

The four key themes that emerged through thematic analysis were a mixture of positive and negative observations regarding participants view of BCM and a BCMS. The key themes that emerged all comprised of sub-themes that illustrated the BCMS status at the public sector organisation. Firstly, the perception of BC concerning its relevance, a reactive mind-set and externally response focused. Secondly, seeking change with the need for understanding and clarification to enable BCM practice. Thirdly, leadership directive sought through senior management to lead and direct organisational BCMS. Fourthly, the implementation of BC into organisational culture through engagement, collaboration and staff training to improve the implementation of a BCMS into their teams. Participants recommendations were also significant and were collaboratively discussed at two workshops where they created an action plan to improve their future experience with implementing a BCMS within their public sector organisation teams. Participants recommendations should be addressed to enable the public sector organisation to be better prepared to continue their service for the communities of the Auckland region and it is hoped that these recommendations will be shared with other New Zealand public sector organisations to improve their BCM and BCMS.

[NOTE: Full text approved by Faculty for indefinite embargo]

Business continuity management , Business continuity management system , Crisis management , Organisational failure , Organisational learning , International standards , Business continuity plans , Organisational culture , Middle management , Change management , Organisational resilience.
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