Failing Decision

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Recently the Danish subway trains have begun to announce “on time” when they arrive at a station on time. This action reflects a worrying acceptance of the normality of failure. If trains were generally expected to be on time, there would be no reason to – triumphantly – announce it. This chapter deals not with traffic delays, but with failing decisions in organizations. The assumption of this chapter is that failing decisions today are as normal as delayed trains. Instead of being the exception, failure is part of the everyday reproduction of organizations – as an uncontrolled effect but also as a controlled cost for achieving organizational goals. Decisions must fail so the organization can succeed. This chapter uses two cases to elaborate on these ideas. By way of introduction, I will reflect on the notion of ‘failing decisions’ within organization and decision theory. This chapter is also propelled by an interest in failure as one way of improving understanding of present-day decision making in organizations.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationScheitern : Organisations- und wirtschaftssoziologische Analysen
EditorsJens Bergmann, Matthias Hahn, Antonia Langhof, Gabriele Wagner
Place of PublicationWiesbaden
Publication date2014
ISBN (Print)9783658016524
ISBN (Electronic)9783658016524
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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