Ron Westrum

Ron Westrum
Eastern Michigan University | EMU · Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Criminology

Ph.D Sociology, Chicago

About

42
Publications
35,856
Reads
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1,181
Citations
Introduction
My primary interest is the flow of information and its relation to organizational culture and performance. I believe that certain cultures or climates tend to facilitate effective information flow and thus boost organizational performance. Recently I have worked on pedophile priests, knowledge about Jimmy Savile by the BBC and the hospitals in England, and the Hillsborough soccer tragedy and its history. A whole other project is devoted to the flow of information about UFOs, and especially between experiencers and writers about UFO abductions. I am interested in the way that knowledge builds up in organizational and private data bases.
Additional affiliations
August 1978 - May 1979
The University of Edinburgh
Position
  • Fellow
September 1972 - present
Eastern Michigan University
Position
  • Professor of Sociology
Description
  • I have taught complex organizations, sociology of work, and sociology of technology
Education
September 1966 - May 1972
University of Chicago
Field of study
  • Sociology
September 1963 - June 1966
Harvard University
Field of study
  • Social Relations

Publications

Publications (42)
Article
Full-text available
This article briefly explains "Requisite Imagination," a design procedure that helps to identify what might go wrong with something designed
Article
Full-text available
Henry Bauer’s well-written Essay Review (in this issue) on “climate change” brings to mind another attempt to close off debate and pronounce that “Yup, now we know for sure”: The Condon Report on UFOs of 1968 (Condon et al. 1969). This was an attempt, on the part of the U.S. Air Force, to discourage interest in UFOs, and to make the issue appear fi...
Article
Full-text available
Information flow has been shown to be a key variable in system safety. Not only is information flow vital to the organization’s “nervous system,” but it is also a key indicator of the quality of the organization’s functioning. The author describes how his personal trajectory took him from the study of social information about anomalous events to th...
Article
Full-text available
James R. Phimister, Vicki M. Bier, and Howard C. Kunreuther lays out several issues confronting high-hazard enterprises and regulators vis-a-vis the precursor analysis meant to help them ward off operational threats, in their article 'Flirting with Disaster' (Issue, Fall 2005). To develop more robust event analysis in any high-hazard industry, a fi...
Article
Full-text available
There is wide belief that organisational culture shapes many aspects of performance, including safety. Yet proof of this relationship in a medical context is hard to find. In contrast to human factors, whose contributions are many and notable, culture's impact remains a common-sense, rather than a scientific, concept. The objectives of this paper a...
Chapter
When a large system is developed, there are always, in the early stages, a great number of serious problems with it. In some organizations these serious problems are quickly noted and rapidly attacked. In others they are hidden, skirted, or only half-solved. If we call the former organizations effective and the latter ineffective, we are led to an...
Chapter
Successful air traffic control requires two things: the management of information and the management of consciousness. Both are important, but they are different. Automation can improve one or it can improve both. Human consciousness and human information-processing ability are limited, whereas, in practical terms, the span of attention of automati...
Article
Full-text available
Reintroduction of animals to the wild to establish free-ranging viable populations is a valuable conservation tool, but ecological skills alone are not enough to ensure a successful reintroduction; also needed to do the work are effectively designed and managed programs. This article suggests general guidelines for organizing and managing reintrodu...
Article
Protecting endangered species is a very complicated scientific task, requiring ingenuity and imagination. Yet the organizations to which we have given this task may be little suited to it. Examining the ecology of black-footed ferrets and their near-extinction under government management, the authors question the adequacy of traditional wildlife ma...
Conference Paper
Success in large-scale projects demands useful information flow. The quality of information available strongly affects the quality of the decisions systems can make. When key items of information are missing, faulty and even disastrous decisions may result. Testimony before the Rogers Commission on events surrounding the destruction of the space sh...
Article
While high technology confers many social benefits, it also has important drawbacks. Among these are its vulnerability to certain kinds of accidents, crimes and terrorist attacks. The article examines this vulnerability in some detail and demonstrates the differences in vulnerability of low- and high-tech systems. High-tech systems are vulnerable b...
Article
While high technology confers many social benefits, it also has important drawbacks. Among these are its vulnerability to certain kinds of accidents, crimes and terrorist attacks. The article examines this vulnerability in some detail and demonstrates the differences in vulnerability of low- and high-tech systems. High-tech systems are vulnerable b...
Article
Full-text available
In making decisions about the reality of alleged anomalous events, scientists are likely to weigh both the a priori plausibility of what is alleged and the credibility of the reports which reach them. The present paper is an attempt to examine the anomaly reporting processes which led to the scientific recognition of the reality of meteorites in th...

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