Date of Award

Fall 2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Public Administration (DPA)


Public Policy and Administration

Committee Chairperson

Kristen B. Crossney, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Lisa Calvano, Ph.D., M.S., M.B.A.

Committee Member

Stacie Metz, Ph.D., M.P.H., M.S.W.


Few businesses are considered less “essential” during a pandemic than art museums, historical societies, and other cultural organizations. After the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) was declared a pandemic, most jurisdictions in the United States required institutions open to the public to close their doors. Without visitors, many cultural institutions faced an existential crisis, and scrambled to find creative ways to stay afloat. Adding to the challenge is the unusual aspect of the COVID-19 emergency, in which parents and children often worked and attended school at home. Gender disparities and professional role might also impact real and perceived threats to organizational survival. There have been no published studies on the organizational resilience of cultural organizations such as museums. The goal of this cross-sectional online survey study was to measure the organizational resilience of cultural institutions using The Benchmark Resilience Tool (BRT), a validated instrument that measures organizational resilience across 13 domains. A key finding of this study is that participants’ organizations fail to regularly plan or drill for emergencies, despite the fact that financial crisis, major accident or fire, reputation damage, pandemic, and severe weather were rated by participants as high risk for creating a crisis at their organization. Compared to female respondents, male respondents consistently rated organizational resilience higher across every domain; this difference was statistically significant in two domains. From these findings, twelve recommendations have emerged. By adopting the recommended strategies, cultural organizations may become more resilient and better equipped to face the COVID-19 pandemic and future crises.