Adaptive societies

Adaptive societies, organizations and workers

How do societies, organizations and individuals react and change in regard to challenges?

Research focus

Societies, organizations, and individuals are subjected to profound changes. Such changes come in many forms and at different levels. Such changes may either be episodic (e.g. economic depression, inter-group conflict, divorce, unemployment, sickness) or structural and long lasting (globalization, migration, deinstitutionalization, neo-liberalization, aging, flexibilization, digitalization , and accompanying changes in values, norms, and culture), and affect the ‘life chances’ of these social actors who, as a consequence, need to deal with these changing realities they face. Adaptive reactions are diverse and challenges manifold.

Our research line firstly aims to understand the adaptive and maladaptive reactions and underlying mechanisms of social actors to these changes. Secondly, using this acquired understanding, it aims to study whether or not interventions (policies, organizational interventions, (inclusive) Human Resource Management practices, treatments, reintegration efforts, and the like) and subsystems within organizations aimed at improving actors’ adaptiveness and resilience are effective and do what they are supposed to do.

Interdisciplinary approach

As most complex societal and organizational developments (such as migration, social inequality, aging, temporary and networked organizations, need for continuous learning, increasing flex pool of workers, shifting employment relationships, increasing work and performance pressure) affect social and work life on many levels at the same time, these two aims cannot be tackled anymore using a single monodisciplinary perspective. Cooperation between academics with backgrounds in sociology, organization studies, medical science, psychology and human resource studies is necessary to advance our knowledge into the challenges societies, organizations, teams and individuals are facing and how to adapt to these in order to maintain or increase their individual, organizational or societal resilience and well-being.

Research networks:

Cross-cutting theme coordinator

dr. Karina van de Voorde