Organizational cooperation in crises: A conceptual framework

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Political Science


Cooperation, Conflict, Interorganizational relations, Behavior, Crisis management

Subject Categories

Political Science | Psychology | Public Administration | Social and Behavioral Sciences | Social Psychology


The study examines empirical patterns of organizational cooperation in crises using Moynihan Institute Transboundary Crisis Research and Analysis dataset; a new dataset on crises and crisis management. Specifically it identifies a range of cooperative behaviors in decision-situations and cooperation strategies across crises using a large n categorical principal component analysis. The study draws on theories of cooperation developed in international relations, organizational theory, and social psychology. The links between the cooperative behaviors and strategies, and between the identified behaviors and strategies and variations in the crisis characteristics, are further investigated using correlation and regression analysis.

The study is innovative in the way it synthesizes and brings together findings and theoretical assertions on cooperation from traditionally separate research programs. The author asserts that prior research has had limited success in explaining organizational cooperation in general, and crisis cooperation in particular, because of the tendency to view cooperation as one-dimensional and as separate from conflict.

The empirical results show that cooperative and conflictual organizational actions and statements are intrinsically linked to the behaviors and strategies organizations display when they interact in crises. The results also show that, generally speaking, organizations are more likely to fight than to cooperate in crises. The study also shows that bureaucratic politics, signaling trustworthiness, and concurrence seeking as cooperation strategies are linked to specific behaviors in decision-situations. Furthermore, some crisis characteristics significantly increase the likelihood of organizations displaying specific cooperative behaviors and strategies. For instance, the study find links between uncertainty and a strategy of concurrence seeking, between the threat being perceived as coming from inside the group, and a strategy of engaging in bureaucratic politics as well as between urgency and fighting in decision-situations. As an agenda for further research, the study suggests examining how independent variables focused on structure, process, and agency affect organizations' cooperative behaviors and strategies in crises.


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