Everyday life in extreme contexts:
The roles of identity, routines and emotions
Together with the principal researcher Linda Rouleau, and researchers Sebastien Arcand, Stephanie Gagnon, Markus is involved in a project given to Linda and funded by the government of Canada.
In a global world characterized by risks, catastrophes and accidents, organizations have to deal with extreme events that can provoke loss or damage. Examples include major political collapses (e.g., Quinn & Worline, 2008), disasters (e.g., Majchrzak, Jarvenpaa & Andrea, 2007), catastrophic environmental accidents (e.g., Shepherd & Williams, 2013), death during mountaineering expeditions (Elmes & Frame, 2008), emergency situations (e.g., Cornelissen, Mantere & Vaara, 2014), and so on. Such extreme events are generally the sites of retrospective inquiries investigating what went wrong (Brown, 2003; Boudes & Laroche, 2009). However, as Buchanan (2011: 273) states, “following an accident, crisis, disaster or other extreme events, the recommendations from investigations and inquiries are often not implemented.” One of the multiple reasons explaining this statement is that those conducting these inquiries focus on unpacking these events without knowing the processes and dynamics through which life within organizations was previously structured and ordered. Instead of mainly concentrating our efforts on extreme events when it is too late, we propose to examine the processes and dynamics characteristic of the extreme contexts in which extreme events are likely to occur more or less frequently. To develop efficient tools and intervention strategies, and even to improve prevention policies, there is a need to better understand the way managers and organizational members play their roles, tinker with the limited means they have, and live with the emotional pressures in the everyday life of extreme contexts. This is the aim of this research project.