By Bridget Hutter, Michael Power

Organizational encounters with probability variety from blunders and anomalies to outright failures. This selection of essays addresses the various ways that glossy businesses comprehend, method and care for danger. Contributions via prime specialists on threat administration illustrate the complicated organizational and social size of probability administration, reminding the readers that potent dealing with comprises even more than the applying of method.

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Trade associations and industry bodies also lead re-organization, for example Responsible Care, a US chemical industry initiative created in response to declining public opinion of the chemical industry following the Bhopal incident in the mid-1980s (Rees 1997) or the American Institute of Nuclear Power Operations (INPO), created in the wake of the Three Mile Island accident in 1979 (Rees 1994). More generally, the rise of the so-called ‘regulatory state’ has witnessed an explosion of 26 Organizational Encounters with Risk agencies tasked with organizing other organizations.

The complexity of an organization means that mistakes or misconduct in one part of it may have serious repercussions elsewhere; anomalies may be systemic and relate to poor coordination and communication between different parts of a company. As the contribution of Kunreuther and Heal (Chapter 8 in this volume) shows, intraorganizational interdependencies can lead to systemic under-investment in risk management, thereby increasing organizational exposure as a whole. Vaughan’s contribution to this volume, and her earlier work on the Challenger disaster (Vaughan 1996), shows how anomalies, uncertainties and puzzles have distinctive organizational trajectories and are transformed into, or ignored as, risks according to specific organizational norms and routines.

G. between nations and within organizations. Re-organizing may favour different groups in relatively privileged positions and the problem of free-riders on reform is a constant challenge. Efforts to organize constructive dissent and challenge are often visible. The ambivalent status of whistle blowing and mechanisms to support it within organizations illustrates the difficulties and paradoxes of re-organizing processes which seek to co-opt ‘unorganized’ sources of maverick risk intelligence. Making organizations ‘smarter’ in the form of critical feedback can also make them less legitimate.

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