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When Things Go Wrong
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When Things Go Wrong
Organizational Failures and Breakdowns

Edited by:
  • Helmut K. Anheier - Hertie School of Governance, Germany, University of Heidelberg, Germany

© 1999 | 328 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc
To understand success, you must first understand failure. This understanding is especially critical since failure is a phenomenon that is much more common to everyday life, businesses, and government practice than standard theory would lead us to assume. Failure manifests itself in many ways, including breakdowns, bankruptcies, and other forms of organizational catastrophes and fiascoes. Thus, learning from failure will enable success. When Things Go Wrong brings together contributions from 24 leading scholars who examine the causes, patterns, process, and outcomes of such failures from economic, managerial, cognitive and political perspectives. This book presents failure as a relative concept in terms of the expectations and strategies of stakeholders putting a claim on the performance of the organization and the notion of success. It challenges future research in this field to combine both economic and non-economic performance measures to assess organizational tendencies toward success and failure and to differentiate between failure as process and failure as an outcome.
 
PART ONE: INTRODUCTION
Helmut K Anheier and Lynne Moulton
Organizational Failures, Breakdowns and Bankruptcies
An Introduction  
 
PART TWO: ORGANIZATIONS AND FAILURE
Lynne G Zucker and Michael R Darby
Costly Information
Firm Transformation, Exit, or Persistent Failure  
David Wilson, David J Hickson and Susan J Miller
Decision Overreach as a Reason for Failure
How Organisations Can Overbalance  
Mark Hager et al
"Tales from the Grave"
Organizations' Accounts of Their Own Demise  
Renate Mayntz
Organizational Coping, Failure, and Success
Academies of Sciences in Central and Eastern Europe  
 
PART THREE: THE POLITICAL ECONOMY OF FAILURE AND BANKRUPTCY
Wolfgang Seibel
Successful Failure
An Alternative View of Organizational Coping  
Kevin J Delaney
Veiled Politics
Bankruptcy as a Structured Organizational Field  
Mark Bovens et al
The Politics of Blame Avoidance
Defensive Tactics in a Dutch Crime-Fighting Fiasco  
Terence C Halliday and Bruce G Carruthers
Creating the Agents of Corporate Rescue
Professionalization of Insolvency  
 
PART FOUR: THE COGNITIVE CONSTRUCTION OF FAILURE
Lee Clarke and Charles Perrow
Prosaic Organizational Failure
Marshall W Meyer
Permanent Failure and the Failure of Organizational Performance
 
PART FIVE: STRUCTURAL FAILURES
Frank P Romo and Helmut K Anheier
Success and Failure in Institutional Development
A Network Approach  
Helmut K Anheier and Frank P Romo
Stalemate
A Structural Analysis of Organizational Failure  
 
PART SIX: CONCLUSION
Helmut K Anheier and Lynne Moulton
Studying Organizational Failures

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