Relational-based Resilience of a Public University: A Case study on Losing a Library by Mzuzu University in Malawi

MacDonald Kanyangale, Eugenio Njoloma


Following the destruction of the university library by fire in 2015, this retrospective study explores the nature of the capabilities of organisational resilience exhibited by Mzuzu University (Mzuni) - as perceived by Heads of Departments (HoDs) in the university. Limited research has focused on what resilient university libraries actually do and how organisational resilience is actually achieved in practice. Eight HoDs, selected using stratified random sampling, were interviewed and data analyzed using content analysis.

Results reveal that the nature of organisational resilience – quick restoration of library services with little disturbance to the academic calendar – exhibited by Mzuni lacked a proactive approach. Predominantly, Mzuni relied on unexpected, external and relational-based capabilities to improvise library services. An interplay of various organisational, individual and relational capabilities was cardinal in the improvisation of library services. However, ambidextrous structure, culture and leadership, and the pursuit of systemic resilience are fundamental if Mzuni is to be truly resilient.

The integrative framework of proactive organisational resilience proposed in this study is insightful for librarians, leaders of public universities and HR practitioners to build prospectively the composite capability of organisational resilience for the university library before an adversity occurs.



Resilient library, Organisational resilience, Framework of proactive organisational resilience, Relational-based resilience

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