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Recovery, Renewal, Resilience: Developing guidance for local Resilience

Our project takes a systems approach to Recovery and Renewal from COVID-19 to build Resilience. We are developing a new framework which supports Resilience partners as they design Recovery Strategies that will reinstate local preparedness for future emergencies. The framework also supports those who design Renewal Initiatives that strive to deliver major transformations of local Resilience. The framework is being developed through extensive partnership working with local governments, and has led to an international standard (ISO 22393) on Recovery and Renewal for Resilience. Our framework, partnership working, and ISO 22393 aim to make a difference in the aftermath of COVID-19.  

Our project team produces ‘The Manchester Briefing on COVID-19’, a fortnightly document that brings together international lessons which may prompt thinking on Recovery and Renewal from COVID-19. The Manchester Briefing is distributed to over 50,000 through a network of partners and is core to our engagement with the Resilient Cities Network which disseminates it to its 4,000 cities.  

This graphic offers an overview of who we are and our activities and outputs through the Recovery, Renewal, Resilience project. 

This research is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), as part of UK Research and Innovation’s rapid response to Covid-19 (Project number: ES/V015346/1), by The University of Manchester, and partners.

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Recovery, Renewal, Resilience: Developing guidance for local Resilience

Concentrating on local government, the project develops a new framework to design and implement transactional Recovery Strategies that prepare for future emergencies and ambitious Renewal Initiatives that facilitate major transformation of local Resilience. The framework will:

  • Take a whole system approach to Recovery and Renewal (from community to national)
  • Explore how to manage the changes in people, places and processes that is needed
  • Address short-term, transactional Recovery as well as longer-term, transformational Renewal
  • Complement existing guidance and Resilience standards and lead to an international standard (ISO22393: Guidelines for planning Recovery and Renewal)

The aftermath of COVID-19 presents a multitude of challenges and opportunities for local communities. Our project will develop a framework for local government and communities that outlines how to design Recovery Strategies and Renewal Initiatives to build local Resilience. The framework will offer guidance for how local areas can initially Recover by reinstating their preparedness for the next emergency. It will also provide guidance on how to design ambitious Renewal Initiatives that transform communities to enhance local Resilience.

Through action research, the project will co-produce this framework with local governments and communities as they plan and implement COVID-19 strategies over the next 18 months. The framework will be developed, evaluated, and refined across different locations, ensuring its efficacy for different contexts and the unique circumstances they face. In addition, a programme of longitudinal engagement with international experts will collect experiences to identify wider perspectives of Recovery and Renewal. The final framework will inform the process of Recovery and Renewal and prepare for future crises, reducing future risk.

The project will capture new knowledge in academic articles and provide local government with supplementary resources to inform their planning of Recovery and Renewal. The framework will form an ISO international standard that is co-developed with an international team of Recovery and Renewal experts to enhance its wider applicability. The framework will be informed by (and inform) the committees that coordinate Recovery and Renewal in a local area by working closely with the Resilience partners and engaging with local and national organisations on how they plan Recovery and Renewal on a system-wide basis. Our local government partners have different structures and geographies so we can create a framework that is widely applicable to local variations.

We know that places are at different stages of thinking about the aftermath of COVID-19. In the project we aim to involve those that may not yet have formally begun (nor have the structures to begin) their Recovery and Renewal process, as well as involve those that are perhaps more advanced in their thinking and activity.

• Collect and analyse national/international lessons on Recovery and Renewal
• Interview experts across the world on emergency planning, risk, Recovery, and Resilience
• Contribute to three local committees that coordinate their city’s Recovery and Renewal projects (which we have expanded to 9 committees)
• Facilitate webinars on Recovery and Renewal for Resilience
• Producing training modules (video, materials, etc) and deliver training to groups that coordinate Recovery and Renewal
• Develop and test a framework for Recovery and Renewal, refine it in different contexts (national and international), learn about its application, and use feedback to improve it
• Develop and test a methodology to assess the impact of the framework

• Expert briefings on how to implement recovery and renewal for local resilience
• A searchable database of lessons for recovery and renewal for local resilience
• A theoretically underpinned, practice-tested framework to support thinking about recovery and renewal for local resilience
• A self-evaluation methodology to reflect on recovery practices
• The Manchester Briefing, case studies, and training products
• International and national standards having a global impact

Recovery, Renewal, Resilience: Our research projects

The team is working on a range of COVID-19 research topics within three areas of: 1. Communities 2. Systems 3. Recovery, Renewal, Resilience Frameworks. We have grouped the research projects according to their relevance to these three impact areas. In the descriptions below, we highlight the key issues and insights that our research activities aim to address.

Operationalising community resilience as a Local Resilience Capability

Community resilience is such an intractable issue that is often difficult to pin down – yet the actions of local people have been central to supporting those who are especially vulnerable to COVID-19. In thinking about community resilience post-COVID, Duncan Shaw, David Powell and Szymon Parzniewski will research how to operationalise the resilience capabilities of our communities and how such capabilities can be activated when needed. They call this Local Resilience Capability (LRC). The place to start with LRC is understanding what local resilience partners and communities can do to support each other to build resilience of an area by lowering risks and vulnerabilities and enhancing preparedness. For example, how can communities provide local intelligence on new community risks into a Local Resilience Forum, and how can resilience partners help communities to enhance local resilience to emergencies. This project delves deeper into relationships, assurance, delivery, community governance, and many other dimensions.

This research will work with local areas to: (a) articulate a new approach to community resilience centred on local resilience capabilities that can be activated; (b) propose a means of measuring confidence in the local resilience capability; (c) show the complementary roles of a wide range of partners in local resilience.

COVID-19: Coping Mechanisms of Ethnic Minorities & Refugees

Research by Gemma Sou, Ilma Nur Chowdhury, Szymon Parzniewski, and Duncan Shaw aims to provide new insights to the experiences of minorities and refugees during COVID-19. The main purpose of this study: (a) is to identify what actions organisations are taking (or not) to sustain the recovery of refugees; and (b) what more organisations could be doing to build recovery and resilience among such communities during disasters. This study follows a qualitative research design and collects expert data with interviews. This research study strives to contribute to the current literature in multiple ways: (a) by providing a greater understanding about refugees’ experiences during challenging times like COVID-19; and (b) by proposing a framework that can support the recovery processes and resilience building of refugee communities.

Disaster Reparations

Nat O’Grady is undertaking research that explores the development and enactment of recovery strategies and their rationalisation under a broader hegemonic resilience motif that in recent times has subsumed emergency governance logics. This research project aims to contribute to extant debates to geography, anthropology, IR and politics in various ways: (a) concerning recovery and resilience as modes of governance deployed to attend to emergencies; and (b) to rethink recovery through practices that seek to provide reparations for communities subjected to different forms of violence. Drawing on field interviews, this work aims to show how the potential for reparative politics incubates in current decision making concerning how to re-establish renditions of life in amidst and in the wake of covid-19.

Recovering and renewing community resilience: lessons learned from the 2010 Chile earthquake and COVID-19

Jenny Andrea Moreno by identifying lessons from the 2010 Chile earthquake and COVID-19 in Talcahuano City, is exploring how realised community resilience in previous disasters can be transferred to future disaster events. This research project endeavours to identify: (a) how community resilience can be transferred from one disaster to another; and (b) how major previous disasters have affected response and recovery during COVID-19. This empirical paper will employ a qualitative methodological approach and research design and collects data through semi-structured interviews. This research project aims to contribute to the extant literature by: (a) enhancing understanding of the process of learning and transferring community resilience, a scarcely investigated area within the community resilience research domain; and (b) by proposing practical implications for policy makers as to how community resilience learned in previous disasters can be integrated and applied to recovery from COVID-19 in local governments.

Organisational renewal and/or resilience of micro-businesses during COVID-18: A Palestinian Case Study

Judy Scully, Ayham Fattoum, Magda Hassan, Róisín Jordan, Simos Chari and Duncan Shaw are examining the impacts of COVID-19 on micro-business resilience and renewal capabilities in Palestine. This study employs a qualitative methodological approach and research design and will gather data through semi-structured interviews with Palestinian micro-business owners. The core purpose of this research study is: (a) to understand the concept of SUMUD; the context in which Palestinian micro-businesses operate; and (b) to understand the strategies and coping mechanisms of Palestine micro-businesses on their ability to survive and/or thrive in highly volatile environments such as COVID-19. In the Palestinian context, SUMUD, is a complex phenomenon that resembles the resilience and resistance of the Palestinian people in facing the political and economic environment in which they live. This research will afford insights into the drivers and consequences of SUMUD among Palestinian micro-businesses by demonstrating best practices, intuition, innovation, and entrepreneurial practices for coping with COVID-19 within a complex environment.

Engaging communities and volunteers dynamically to enhance resilience during emergencies

This project, conducted by Ayham Fattoum, Alan Boyd and Duncan Shaw, will introduce and test a novel holistic organisational design for engaging communities. This study will enhance organisational resilience, effectiveness, and efficiency through creating rapid and dynamic adaption to environmental stresses. This research follows a mixed-method approach by drawing on insights generated through interview data and action research/case study design. The mixed-methods approach to this study will enable an exploration of systemic challenges and solutions to engaging volunteers, community groups, or other organisations and businesses during COVID-19. This work aims to contribute to the literature in two ways: (a) by expanding systemic principles such as open systems and permeable boundaries to enhance resilience during emergencies, and (b) by introducing these systems principles to the theory of Viable Systems Modelling and complexity management to enhance the resilience and agility of those systems.


Identifying priority research needs for the effective regulation and oversight of emergency planning across organisations

Alan Boyd, David Powell and Duncan Shaw are conducting a study to identify research that could be particularly helpful to inform how regulatory and oversight bodies support coordinated resilience and emergency preparedness across different organisations and stakeholders. There will be a particular focus on supporting the contribution of health and social care organisations in England. The purpose of the study is to inform future proposals for funding to conduct the research that is needed. The study will include a rapid literature review, interviews with staff from regulatory and oversight bodies, and interviews with other researchers.

This study aims to identify research needs in four areas: a) regulation and oversight at the system level; b) coordinating the activities of different regulators and oversight bodies, such as through joint projects, memorandums of understanding and coordinated development of standards, guidance and assessment frameworks; c) assessing the contribution that individual organisations make to system resilience, response and recovery; d) the scope and powers of regulatory and oversight bodies.


Ultra-Permeable boundaries: Criteria and process of timely engagement of communities and volunteers for resilient systems during emergencies

In this topic, Ayham Fattoum, Alan Boyd and Duncan Shaw introduce the novel concept of ultra-permeable boundaries. Ultra-boundaries involve studying features and mechanisms that enable a safe and effective flow of resources into and out of the system. This concept allows, in addition to information, physical resources (e.g. human resources/volunteers) to cross into and work for the organisation to support its resilience and agility during emergencies and periods of high or unique demand on resources. The core purpose of this research is to identify how volunteers, community groups, or support from other organisations and businesses were utilised during COVID-19. Following a mixed-methods approach and research design, this work will draw on interviews, focus groups and observations with decision-makers at different levels (management to operations) covering organisations involved in the response to COVID-19. This research aims to contribute to this area of research by expanding on the notion of permeable boundaries (that involves information sharing) and introduce the notion of ultra-permeable boundaries.

Exploring the factors that determine communities/volunteers trust in organisations and their willingness to volunteer with them during emergencies

Duncan Shaw, Ayham Fattoum and Alan Boyd are undertaking this empirical research which aims to explore the factors that determine the systemic and other characteristics that influence volunteers’ willingness to volunteer and support organisations during emergencies. The purpose of this paper is to enhance organisational resilience during emergencies by adjusting organisational design and culture to be more receptive to environmental support. This research will employ a mixed-methods methodological approach and research design through two stages; (a) in-depth interviews and focus groups to identify and understand the main variables affecting communities and organisations to volunteer; and (b) quantitative methods (i.e., structured questionnaires) will be applied to test, develop, and generalise these driving variables. This research aims to contribute to extant literature by exploring the systemic characteristics that promote a stronger relationship between organisations and their environment, and hence obtain needed support during adversity.

Managing complexity in viable systems: A framework for rapid decision-making at the operational level for higher resilience and viability

In this COVID-19 & Systems research project Ayham Fattoum, Alan Boyd, Duncan Shaw and Simos Chari are exploring operational solutions to enhance the autonomy of operational level personnel to rapidly analysing and acting on complexities during emergencies. The purpose of this research is to introduce flexible models of decision-making that enable this autonomy while maintaining the system’s coherence and the ability to qualitatively inform and assess these decisions. This study follows a mixed methods methodological approach and research design through interviews, focus groups and observation with decision-makers at different levels (management to operational) covering organisations involved in the response to COVID-19. This project will also draw on the analysis of how volunteers, community groups, or support from other organisations and businesses were utilised during COVID-19. This work strives to contribute to this area of research in three ways. Firstly, this work aims to propose a new decision-making framework that enables informed and rapid decisions nearest to the information source. Secondly, this research aims to contribute theoretically to solving the autonomy-control dilemma that exists in the literature. Thirdly, to suggest practical implications that inform policymakers and emergency responders on how to enable autonomy for on the ground staff for higher resilience and agility.


Towards more resilient and sustainable tourist-historic cities post-COVID

This research, led by Andrew McClelland and Duncan Shaw, is focused on the impacts of COVID-19 on tourism and how lessons learned during the pandemic are shaping the strategic thinking of tourist-historic cities in relation to recovery and renewal. Tourism is one of the global industries most impacted by the crisis and will experience significant disruption into the future given public-health measures and restrictions on the mobility of international travellers. Many places are highly dependent on the visitor economy and may struggle to recover at the same pace as other local economic sectors. Further, the present crisis has also underlined calls for remaking the industry in the face of climate change and other profound societal challenges.

Using qualitative interviews, this research will therefore explore (a) the response of tourist-historic cities to the impacts and implications of COVID-19; and (b) whether and how the crisis is being used to renew local tourism for a more sustainable and resilient future.


Before, During, and After COVID-19: A Longitudinal Study of Recovery and Renewal

Duncan Shaw, David Powell, Andrew McClelland and Simos Chari are conducting a longitudinal study of recovery and renewal from the arrival of COVID-19 to its aftermath. This study aims to; (a) extract similarities and differences across organizations and develop a generalizable and theoretically underpinned recovery and renewal framework, using longitudinal panel data collected at four different time points from across a range of countries; and (b) trial our recovery and renewal framework with groups in local and national organizations in five countries to identify how the framework may help them to think about, and coordinate, their approach to recovery and renewal to COVID-19. This will include how the framework supports them to develop plans, strategies, and initiatives, and underpins their motivation for recovery and renewal after the tiring response to COVID-19. This research will employ a mixed-methods methodological approach and research design, using action research, interviews and ethnographic research.

As an ongoing project, this research project plans to collect data at 4 different points in time. The first phase that covers the “before” aspects of COVID has been completed to understand how experts anticipate recovery. Currently, phase 2 of data collection is underway and aims to collect information on how recovery is being designed and how renewal is being considered. Data collection of all 4 phases will be completed by January 2022. This project aims to contribute a novel paper that monitors local and national recovery planning over time; specifically, before, during, and after COVID-19. The majority of the current papers published on recovery only take a snapshot of the planning process so provide a limited view. Striving to uncover the reality of developing recovery and renewal pathways for these organizations, this work also aims to provide a generalizable framework for recovery and renewal that informs how organizations can better plan for the aftermath of unanticipated disasters similar to COVID-19.

Informing a transformative post-COVID recovery framework using practitioner knowledge

Andrew McClelland, Duncan Shaw, and David Powell are drawing upon diverse practitioner perspectives collated by the project team in the early months of the pandemic to inform the development of a recovery framework that can enable a transactional recovery and transformative renewal from COVID-19. The unprecedented nature of the crisis means that renewal will be extremely complex and uncertain, casting a “long shadow” globally with prolonged and deeply uneven impacts upon different people and places. Rethinking the framework for recovery and renewal is important to address the immediate challenges of the crisis while developing societal resiliency and preparedness for analogous future shocks. This qualitative study will use interview data and wide-ranging literature to explore: (a) gaps in our understanding of post-disaster recovery, particularly concerning the limited focus on pandemics; and (b) the profound lessons emerging for recovery-related theory and practice deriving from COVID-19.

A Strategic Recovery, Renewal, Resilience Framework: Insights from Theory and Practice

Duncan Shaw, Simos Chari and Andrew McClelland are developing a strategic recovery, renewal and resilience framework through empirical research. This project aims (a) to use a discovery-oriented approach and insights from theory and practice, to develop a generalizable and theoretically underpinned framework for strategic recovery, renewal, and resilience; and (b) to test the framework of strategic recovery, renewal, resilience with additional survey data to ensure its applicability. This research study will employ a mixed-methods methodological approach and research design through two phases. The first involves the application of a discovery-oriented approach to develop a conceptual framework identifying key variables and relationships that are important in understanding strategic recovery, renewal, and resilience. A discovery-oriented approach involves supplementing the literature findings with field-based findings (e.g. ethnography, focus groups and interviews with senior managers). The second phase will conduct a large scale questionnaire survey, incorporating scales that have already undergone psychometric testing, to test the generalizability of the framework.  

This research will provide a theoretically and practically anchored framework for strategic recovery, renewal, resilience that informs organizations how to build adaptive capacities for future unanticipated events.  

The team

Find out more about our expert team below

duncan shaw profile
Professor Duncan Shaw Professor of Operational Research and Critical Systems
Duncan's profile
Roisin Jordan
Roisin Jordan Project Coordinator in Recovery, Renewal, Resilience, University of Manchester
Roisin's profile
Jane from The Manchester Briefing
Jane Adhiambo Project Coordinator, University of Manchester
Jane's profile
Florence Best Assistant Project Coordinator
Florence's profile
David Powell researcher
David Powell Principal Advisor in Recovery, Renewal, Resilience, Humanitarian & Conflict Response Institute
David's profile
Nat O'Grady
Dr Nat O'Grady Lecturer in Human Geography and Disaster, Humanitarian & Conflict Response Institute
Nat's profile
Mandy Turner
Professor Mandy Turner Professor of Conflict, Peace and Humanitarian Affairs, Humanitarian & Conflict Response Institute
Mandy's profile
Simos Chari
Dr Simos Chari Senior Lecturer in Marketing Management & Strategy, Alliance Manchester Business School
Simos' profile
Alan Boyd
Alan Boyd Research Fellow in Healthcare and Public Sector Management, Alliance Manchester Business School
Alan's profile
Judy Scully
Dr Judy Scully Visiting Research Fellow, University of Manchester
Judy's profile
Jenny Moreno
Dr Jenny Moreno Assistant Professor, University of Concepcion, Chile
Jenny's profile
Ayham Fattoum
Dr Ayham Fattoum Lecturer of Management Studies and Operational Disaster Management, Humanitarian & Conflict Response Institute
Ayham's profile
Szymon Parzniewski
Dr Szymon Parzniewski Research Associate in Recovery, Renewal, Resilience, University of Manchester
Szymon's profile
Ilma Chowdhury
Dr Ilma Chowdhury Lecturer in Marketing, Alliance Manchester Business School
Ilma's profile
Andrew McClelland
Dr Andrew McClelland Research Associate in Recovery, Renewal, Resilience, University of Manchester
Andrew's profile
Gemma Sou
Dr Gemma Sou Vice Chancellor’s Fellow, RMIT, Melbourne, Australia
Gemma's profile
Magda Hassan from Alliance Manchester Business School
Dr Magda Hassan Assistant Professor in Marketing, Alliance Manchester Business School
Magda's profile
Billy Tukser Haworth
Dr Billy Tusker Haworth Lecturer in Disaster Management, University of Manchester.
Billy's profile
Thomas Mccarthy from the COVID-119 project team
Thomas Mccarthy Research Assistant
Thomas' profile

Local Resilience partners for Recovery and Renewal

Essex Resilience Forum
Essex Resilience Forum
Essex Resilience Forum's profile
Thames Valley LRF logo
Thames Valley Local Resilience Forum
Thames Valey Local Resilience Forum's profile
Avon and Somerset LRF logo
Avon and Somerset Local Resilience Forum
Avon and Somerset Local Resilience Forum profile
Greater Manchester Resilience Forum
Greater Manchester Resilience Forum
Greater Manchester Resilience Forum profile
Clydesdale logo
Clydesdale Covid Co-ordination Group
Clydesdale Covid Co-ordination Group profile
City of Vancouver logo
City of Vancouver
City of Vancouver profile
Resilient Cities Network
Resilient Cities Network
RCN profile
Ramallah City
Ramallah's profile
Talcahuano, Chile
Talcahuano's profile
BSI logo
British Standards Institute
British Standards Institute profile
ISO logo
International Standards Organisation
International Standards Organisation profile
Cabinet Office Emergency Planning College logo
Cabinet Office Emergency Planning College
Cabinet Office Emergency Planning College profile
Emergency Planning Society logo
Emergency Planning Society
Emergency Planning Society profile
International Association of Emergency Management logo
The International Association of Emergency Management
The International Association of Emergency Management's profile
Creative Crisis Leadership logo
Creative crisis leadership
Creative crisis leadership's profile
local government association logo
Local Government Association
Local Government Association's profile

The Manchester Briefing distribution partners

We are very grateful to all of our distribution partners for their continued support through the dissemination of The Manchester Briefing.

Resilient Cities Network
Resilient Cities Network
Foreign, commonwealth and development office logo
Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO)
Home Office logo
Home Office
GNDR logo
GNDR Global Network of Civil Society Organisations for Disaster Reduction
The International Consortium for Organizational Resilience
The International Consortium for Organizational Resilience
VCSEP logo
Voluntary and Community Sector Emergencies Partnership
Centre for Crisis Studies and Mitigation logo
Centre for Crisis Studies and Mitigation
Napawash logo
National Academy of Public Administration
Business In The Community logo
Business in The Community (BiTC)
NPC logo
The National Preparedness Commission
resilience first logo
Resilience First
All India Disaster Management Institute logo
AIDMI All India Disaster Management Institute
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