What is organizational trauma?

Organizational trauma is a collective experience that overwhelms the organization’s defensive and protective structures and leaves the entity temporarily vulnerable and helpless or permanently damaged. Traumatic events can be sudden, shocking, and throw the organization into turmoil. Organizational traumatization may also result from repeated damaging actions or the deleterious effects of the nature of an organization’s work. Unaddressed organizational trauma — whether sudden or cumulative — causes serious harm and can be catastrophic for organizations. It negatively impacts service delivery, compromises work with clients, and weakens the organization’s ability to respond to internal and external challenges. Over time the unhealed effects of trauma and traumatization compromise the organization’s fundamental health.

Pat and Shana offer theory and practice based on more than thirty years of work with not-for-profit and government organizations. The book covers:  

  • Definition and detailed description of a traumatized system
  • Typology of different kinds and sources of trauma and traumatization
  • Interventions for organizations in the immediate aftermath of trauma and for those that suffer from long-term traumatization
  • Ways to pay attention to what is going on in your organization to avoid pitfalls of unacknowledged traumatization
  • Specific focus on roles of leaders and consultants
  • Numerous case studies and examples that bring the concepts alive