Organizational Resilience in Data Archives: Three Case Studies in Social Science Data Archives
Eschenfelder, Kristin R.
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As public investment in archiving research data grows, there has been increasing attention to the longevity or sustainability of the data repositories that curate such data. While there have been many conceptual frameworks developed and case reports of individual archives and digital repositories, there have been few empirical studies of how such archives persist over time. In this paper, we draw upon organizational studies and theory to approach the issue of sustainability from an institutional perspective, focusing specifically on the institutional histories of three social science data archives (SSDA): ICPSR, UKDA, and LIS. Using a framework of organizational resilience to understand how archives perceive crisis, respond to it, and learn from experience, this article reports on an empirical study of sustainability in these long-lived SSDAs. The study draws from archival documents and interviews to examine how sustainability can and should be conceptualized as on-going processes over time and not as a quality at a single moment. Implications for research and practice in data archive sustainability are discussed.