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Organizational zemblanity

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Stewart Clegg


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We introduce the concept of zemblanity to organization studies to refer to the enactment of disaster when, in systems designed to impede risk, key actors nonetheless construct their own misfortune. The case of the Costa Concordia provides an opportunity to discuss organizational zemblanity. Active as well as passive behaviours by the Costa Concordia's Captain created a vicious circle of inappropriate decision making with traumatic effects. These were complemented by structural elements to be found both in the individual behaviours of others (mainly, the vessel's first line of command) and the lack of other effective organizational controls, both in terms of structures and routines. As our discussion illuminates, there are two overarching elements in play: an excess of individual discretion and a lack of proper organizational controls. We go on to consider the significant implications for both theory and practice that flow from our analysis. (C) 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Giustiniano L, Cunha MPE, Clegg S

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: European Management Journal

Year: 2016

Volume: 34

Issue: 1

Pages: 7-21

Print publication date: 01/02/2016

Online publication date: 30/12/2015

Acceptance date: 11/12/2015

ISSN (print): 0263-2373

ISSN (electronic): 1873-5681

Publisher: Elsevier


DOI: 10.1016/j.emj.2015.12.001


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