“Organizing in Times of Crisis”: Collaborative Open Course on the Case of Covid-19

Every summer term I offer the master-level elective module “Current Issues in Theory and Practice of Organizations”. Last year I focused on “Open Organizations and Organizing Openness” with a wiki-based flipped-classroom approach (check out the open access course wiki). In 2020, however, there is no issue more current than the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. As result, I teamed up with Elke Schüßler (University of Linz) to design a collaborative open course on “Organizing in Times of Crisis: The Case of Covid-19”. From the course description:

The worldwide spread of the Covid19 virus poses a grand social challenge. Seriously threatening the health of the world’s population and accompanied by huge social and economic disruption, it is one of the largest immediate crises for Western societies since World War II and a humanitarian disaster for humankind around the world. Drawing on classic and contemporary organization theory, this course aims to illuminate many pressing questions surrounding the pandemic, such as how supply chains can be organized to ensure adequate supplies of health material, the strengths and difficulties of open science approaches to the development of a vaccine or capabilities of different forms of organization and coordination to quickly and adequately respond in times of crisis.

Together with six other contributors from universities in Berlin, Frankfurt/Oder, Hamburg and Lüneburg, we managed to compile 12 classes on various organizational issues related to crisis management:

  • Class #1: Organizational Decision-Making in Crisis (Elke Schüßler, University of Linz)
  • Class #2: Organizing in and for the Unexpected (Daniel Geiger, University of Hamburg)
  • Class #3: Crisis Management and Bureaucracy (Leonhard Dobusch, University of Innsbruck)
  • Class #4: Dynamics of Network Governance in the Face of Emergency (Jörg Sydow, Freie Universität Berlin)
  • Class #5: Leading, Sensemaking and the Future (Jochen Koch, European University Viadrina)
  • Class #6: Organizational Crisis Communication and Social Media (Hannah Trittin-Ulbrich, Leuphana University Lüneburg)
  • Class #7: New and Alternative Organizations to Counter Crisis (Thomas Gegenhuber, Leuphana University Lüneburg)
  • Class #8: Open Science, Data and Commons (Leonhard Dobusch, University of Innsbruck)
  • Class #9: Entrepreneurship and Innovation for the Common Good (Ali Aslan Gümüsay, University of Hamburg/HIIG Berlin)
  • Class #10: Organizing for Resilience in the Global Economy (Elke Schüßler, University of Linz)
  • Class #11: Inequality, Organizations and Covid-19 (Hannah Trittin-Ulbrich, Leuphana University Lüneburg)
  • Class #12: How Grand Challenges Link Together (Ali Aslan Gümüsay, University of Hamburg/HIIG Berlin)

All course materials, readings, assignments and video lectures are available open access at timesofcrisis.org and the corresponding YouTube channel respectively. Given that all is available under a Creative Commons license, we invite lecturers to use, adapt and build upon our materials. Where possible, we offer the course material in open, changeable formats to make adaptation as easy as possible (e.g., the standard course syllabus). Check it out!

4 thoughts on ““Organizing in Times of Crisis”: Collaborative Open Course on the Case of Covid-19

  1. I would higlhy recommend to reconsider, wheter the virus is as dangerous as we thought it would be. Is there really a need for vaccines ? In Germany Mr. Söder is already talking about a “must” vaccination. This is a huge cut into the freedom and liberty of human beings.
    Why are some specialists heard and other simply down-shut in their opinions? Is this a democratic approach ?


      1. Mr. Dobusch, the doctors in the Video and also myself are not talking about “no measures”. It is clear that measures have to be taken as described in the article. I am questioning whether the time of taking the measures was way to late (should have been already taken-boarder shut down to the country where the epidemic was breaking out – China).
        Furthermore, the imune system of non risk groups gets destabilised due to the long lasting social distancing measures such as the permanent “hand washing” and “disinfectioning” . This might lead to a second wave which could be even more dramatic.
        I and many other doctors would have argueed that a lock down for risk groups (old , pre-illnesses) would have been more logical. This was done during the times of other pandemics in history as well. Shut down the risk groups and the ill people but not the healthy ones and focus on further measures like distancing, masks etc.

        Im neither fully critizing that this has not been done that way, but only the fact that no other opinions have been takein into count while political decisions have followed one-sided recommendations.
        Futhermore it has to analysed whether the deaths have pre-illnesses or not? This affects the death-rates and the interpretation of the graphs.


  2. Furthermore, it is somehow strange that the video has been deleted from Youtube? It was actually published by ABC-news and than deleted because it does not meet the community guidelines…
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ndL0uSmKTQU (Good that the internet does not forget)
    And there is a difference in “forecasting data vs. real-time data” (both should be taken into consideration)

    Just to clarify I am not criticizing but rather questioning the inconsistent measures(no shut down needed, than shut down needed/ no masks needed than masks needed) and their progressions over time.


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