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Adaptive Capacity in Project Teams (Edson & Metcalf)

Organizational resilience has become critical in today’s environment. According to Engelhardt and Simmons (2002): “The need for organizational flexibility to accommodate a changing world is well understood. Today’s high-velocity and competitive markets apply added pressure to adapt rapidly and perform at high levels. Technology is opening up new ways to compete while making old ways obsolete. These trends are recognized in strategic management theories that focus on constant change and speed” (p. 113).

Some project teams were adept at overcoming adversity, while others were not. The project teams that adapted to environmental constraints were able to modify their behaviors to meet goals without losing their function, while others were not. These observations led to the investigation of the nature of project team resilience in the face of adversity. Based on my project management experience and research results, my sense is that project teams present an untapped resource for understanding adaptation and a leverage point for transformational change in organizations. In reviewing the literature, plenty of research focused on understanding group development under standard operating conditions, yet little attention had been devoted to team adaptation under adverse conditions.

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