Leader Reactions to Critical Incidents and Organizational Crises.
When an organization faces a crisis, the manner in which leaders and others deal with it creates new norms, values, and working procedures and reveals important underlying assumptions. Crises are especially significant in culture creation and transmission because the heightened emotional involvement during such periods increase the intensity of learning. Crises heighten anxiety, and anxiety reduction is a powerful motivator of new learning. If people share intense emotional experiences and collectively learn how to reduce anxiety, they are more likely to remember what they have learned.
What is defined as a crisis is, partly a matter of perception. There may or may not be actual dangers in the external environment, and what is considered to be dangerous is itself often a reflection of the culture. For purposes of this analysis, a crisis is what is perceived to be a crisis and what is defined as a crisis by founders and leaders. Crises that arise around the major external survival issues and therefore the most likely to be the occasions when those assumptions become the basis of shared learning and thus become embedded.
~ Edgar H. Schein, Organizational Culture and Leadership