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Organizational Myopia
Problems of Rationality and Foresight in Organizations

  • Date Published: October 2014
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107447219


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About the Authors
  • Could the terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers have been avoided? What about the control failures in the recent global financial crisis? Behind these apparently very different events, it is possible to identify a common element of organizational myopia - a syndrome that severely limits the capacity of organizations to foresee the effects of their own decisions and to recognize signs of danger or opportunity. Organizational Myopia explores the barriers that impede organizations from identifying an effective response to the problems that they have to confront. Using real-world cases, the author investigates the mechanisms that generate myopia in organizations at the individual, organizational, and interorganizational level in contexts that are complex, uncertain, ambiguous, and changeable. This book will help readers understand how to limit the origins of myopia and therefore increase the capacity of organizations to anticipate and contain unexpected events.

    • Examines how organizations can prevent surprises and manage unexpected events
    • Identifies the barriers which impede organizational foresight
    • Recommends improvements that can be made to organizational design
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'The classic studies of bureaucracy emphasized how organizations made people collectively smarter. Organizational Myopia shows how and why organizations can dumb people down. Its multi-level perspective, novel analytic framework (distinguishing predictable vs. unpredictable surprises and manageable and unmanageable events) and vivid illustrations (exploding spacecraft, economic disasters, military misadventures, and many more) make [it] a book that will inform and engage seasoned scholars and novices alike.' Paul DiMaggio, A. Barton Hepburn Professor of Sociology and Public Affairs, Princeton University

    'Drawing us in with unsettling tales of the dark side of organizations, Catino leads us through the diversity of things that go wrong to reveal the common patterns across famous and infamous cases of unanticipated outcomes. Creatively pulling together and analyzing a wide interdisciplinary scholarship, he offers strategies for control that target the causes of organizational blind spots. Engaging, well-written, and of crucial importance, Organizational Myopia is a must-read for students, scholars of organizations, executives, risk management specialists, policy makers, and people working in organizations of every kind.' Diane Vaughan, Columbia University

    'Individuals, organizations, and collective groups routinely overestimate their own capabilities and are deaf to warning signals of pending troubles. This overconfidence has systemic features that are deftly analyzed by Maurizio Catino, in this splendid survey of how organizations often recognize danger only when it is too late. But Catino thinks hubris can be remedied and he offers a spirited case for overcoming myopia through a commitment to experimentation and a focus on learning from failure. This accessible book is a welcome contribution to understanding how organizations can overcome their lack of foresight.' Walter W. Powell, Stanford University

    '… Organizational Myopia is an overwhelming success, likely to be of significant interest to researchers, practitioners, students, and experts alike. Organizational researchers, to start, will benefit from the near-encyclopedic reproduction of decades' worth of research on individual-, social-, and organizational-level phenomena related to decision making, learning, and risk, most notably.' Edward Bishop Smith, American Journal of Sociology

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    Product details

    • Date Published: October 2014
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107447219
    • length: 270 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 14 mm
    • weight: 0.37kg
    • contains: 5 b/w illus. 12 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Cases of myopia
    2. Uncertainty and predictability in organizations
    3. The mechanisms of organizational myopia
    4. Anticipating risk: the problem of learning
    5. Implications for organizational design

  • Author

    Maurizio Catino, Università degli Studi di Milano-Bicocca
    Maurizio Catino is Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology and Social Research at the University of Milan, Bicocca, Italy. He is the author of From Chernobyl to Linate: Technological Accidents or Organizational Errors? (2006) and Understanding Organizations (2012). He has published several articles on learning from organizational errors and the problem of blame culture, medical error and defensive medicine, and the logics of inquiry in case of disasters. He is senior policy advisor for the Italian Parliamentary Commission on Medical Errors and scientific director of the research program on Human factors and safety culture at the Italian Air Force.

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