Karl E. Weick's research while affiliated with University of Michigan and other places

Publications (88)

Article
A commemoration is an invitation to go beyond the thing being commemorated. Such an invitation to surpass becomes more compelling when the thing commemorated is summarized and updated and the surpassing more vividly illustrated. This essay does the former by means of selective references to both editions of the “Social Psychology of Organizing” (19...
Article
March and Simon (1958) aimed to “replace fancy with fact” in organizational studies. As fancies flourished and folded over the next 60 years, their book, “Organizations,” remained a durable set of foundations. I recount 60 years of contact with the book starting 6 months after it was published and continuing through a contemporary rereading in 2017...
Article
The study of organizational behavior involves constrained comprehension of constrained acting. Perspectives on organizational behavior gain and lose their breadth, substance, and credibility as the person doing the explaining is modified by ongoing experience. These ongoing modifications shape the interpretations that are summarized in a perspectiv...
Article
Jerry Davis’s (2015) question “What is organizational research for?” is ill-served by the narrow answer “settled science.” Constraints of comprehension may give the illusion that organizational research represents settled science. But the experience of inquiring actually comprises a greater variety of actions that increase the meaning of present re...
Article
Ambiguity may lead us to insert abstractions into our experience that create a greater number of unanticipated, unintended consequences. When people move closer to the flux of ambiguity, they work to make sense of it. High reliability organizations react to ambiguity by increasing it momentarily. To increase ambiguity is to grasp more of the situat...
Chapter
Theory, which is about suppositions that are general, idealized, and abstract, can easily be misunderstood in a field like organizational behavior where pragmatists, practitioners, and positivists worry about practice, profits, and precision.
Article
The factors that compel individuals to exert the extraordinary effort needed to create high reliability—consistent error-free performance under trying conditions—remain unspecified. Here, we propose that when individuals experience emotional ambivalence and prosocial motivation, it induces the broad thinking and other-orientation that undergird min...
Article
The contributions to this special issue focus on links among sensemaking, organizing, and storytelling. They are re-examined in terms of to what the authors pay attention, with what, and for what. In pursuit of linkages, authors attend to accounts of consulting failure, hearings about the recent financial crisis, life history storytelling by elite...
Article
Crucial to the performance of change management is the conversion of the experience of perceptual flux into evocative conceptual hunches as well as activities that reverse this conversion. Change agents encounter problems when they work with images that incorporate too little flux and images that misplace concreteness. Reconstruing change managemen...
Article
Reliability is portrayed as a situation-specific localized accomplishment that involves continuous management of significant contradictions that are susceptible to interruption. Managing for higher reliability is precarious because it involves the substitution of a conceptual order for a perceptual order. Discrete concepts simplify and lag behind c...
Article
Medical error has reached epidemic proportions, and researchers have developed insufficiently sophisticated models of safety culture to match the complexity of the challenge of safety in health care. This has left providers and researchers with an inadequate conceptual toolkit for improving safety. To rectify the resulting crisis we consolidate fra...
Chapter
This chapter argues here for the poetics of process-the imaginative process of creating forms out of " airy nothing" . Managerial work, it further notes, is akin to the work of a poet. Process thinking helps us pay attention to concrete details and the constitution of things. Through gerund forms of thinking we recover some of the process that gene...
Article
An updated analysis of the Bhopal disaster suggests that problems of abduction, awareness, reliability, and certainty were more serious than was first thought. Expanded analysis shows that the tight coupling between cognition and action, normally associated with enacted sensemaking, broke down at Bhopal. The breakdowns included a low standard of pl...
Article
Full-text available
he collapse of the roof of the Baltimore & Ohio (B&O) Railroad Museum Roundhouse onto its collections during a snowstorm in 2003 provides a starting point for our exploration of the link between learning and rare events. The collapse occurred as the museum was preparing for another rare event: the Fair of the Iron Horse, an event planned to celebra...
Chapter
Im Gegensatz zu dem vorherrschenden Bild, dass Elemente in Organisationen durch enge und dichte Verbindungen gekoppelt seien, wird hier vorgeschlagen, dass die Elemente oftmals in loser Weise verknüpft sind. Am einschlägigen Fall von Bildungsinstitutionen soll verdeutlicht werden, dass das Konzept der losen Kopplung eine überraschende Anzahl von di...
Article
Individuals typically describe information overload as the situation of receiving too much information. Organizational scholars define overload as a state induced when the amount of input to a system exceeds its processing capacity or when information processing capabilities and the information loads encountered are mismatched. Perception plays a k...
Chapter
Karl Weick and Robert QuinnCHANGE AS A GENRE OF ORGANIZATIONAL ANALYSISEPISODIC CHANGEBASIC METAPHORS: ORGANIZINGEPISODIC CHANGEANALYTIC FRAMEWORK: THE EPISODIC CHANGE PROCESSIDEAL EPISODIC ORGANIZATIONSINTERVENTION THEORYEPISODIC CHANGEROLECHANGE AGENTEPISODIC CHANGECONTINUOUS CHANGEBASIC METAPHORS: ORGANIZINGCONTINUOUS CHANGEANALYTIC FRAMEWORK: T...
Article
Richness may lie in the eye of the beholder, but there are ways to coax it into view. In other words, richness has power but we are not powerless to evoke it. I want to examine the topic of the power of richness through the lens of my experience learn- ing how wildland firefighters try to make sense of confusing and complex interactions among flame...
Article
This article is based on a keynote address delivered at the 33rd annual Organizational Behavior Teaching Conference in Rochester, New York, on June 15, 2006. The audience for this address included faculty, executive educators from the profit and nonprofit sectors, and doctoral students in the organizational and management sciences who had gathered...
Article
The article discusses the definition of richness and what it meant to zoologist and Harvard professor Jean Louis Rodolphe Agassiz. Agassiz taught his students to see the richness in objects or activities. The author uses a forest fire disaster that occurred in 1949 at the Mann Gulch to illustrate the importance of richness. There were so many facto...
Article
An enriched view of mindfulness, jointly informed by Eastern and Western thinking, suggests that attentional processes in organizing have been underspecified. Respecification of attention in the context of classical views of mindfulness results in a perspective that features diminished dependence on concepts, increased focus on sources of distracti...
Article
Full-text available
Mindfulness as depicted by Levinthal and Rerup (2006) involves encoding ambiguous outcomes in ways that influence learning, and encoding stimuli in ways that match context with a repertoire of routines. We add to Levinthal and Rerup's conjectures by examining Western and Eastern versions of mindfulness and how they function as a process of knowing...
Article
The article discusses the contribution management scholar William Ouchi has made towards making management more relevant to policy issues. Ouchi has spent 35 years studying large business organizations, with a particular emphasis on how controls affect autonomy and outcomes within an organization. While studying a large public school system he dete...
Article
Full-text available
Sensemaking involves turning circumstances into a situation that is comprehended explicitly in words and that serves as a springboard into action. In this paper we take the position that the concept of sensemaking fills important gaps in organizational theory. The seemingly transient nature of sensemaking belies its central role in the determinatio...
Article
Full-text available
A number of phenomena of interest to management and organizational scholars have been investigated within the context of sport (e.g., compensation-performance relationships, escalating commitment, executive succession, sustainable competitive advantage). The authors are unaware, however, of any systematic effort to address the rationale, benefits,...
Article
How do we organize for high performance in a setting where the potential for error and disaster can be overwhelming? In doing so, how can we best apply the High Reliability Organizing concepts into the prescribed fire and fire use arenas? And, to successfully achieve these outcomes, how can we personally and institutionally overcome our immunity to...
Article
The craft of idea generation is explored autobiographically, using as the core principle the theme that ideas generate their own contexts for development. Ideas generate their own contexts by means of conceptual affinities, as is illustrated by the author's movement from ideas about unintended consequences to ideas about cognitive dissonance, enact...
Article
In this article, the author offers suggestions as to why Normal Accidents, and the theory it formed, continues to provoke. By placing a meaningful frame around flows of events, normal accident theory allows people to better grasp and analyze the complexity of technological organizations as they face the unexpected.
Article
Full-text available
High performance is often attributed to an organization's culture. However, culture can just as easily undermine performance when it blinds decision makers to important performance issues and entraps them in unfortunate courses of action from which they cannot disengage. The dynamics of cultural entrapment are explored in the case of the Bristol Ro...
Article
Theory construction is in part an exercise in 'disciplined imagination'. One way to discipline our imaginations around the topic of organizational learning, it is to pay special attention to things we forget, values we slight, goals we neglect, facts we avoid and questions we fear. Each aspect of this framework is explored in the paper through a va...
Article
The much lamented ‘relevance gap’ is as much a product of practitioners wedded to gurus and fads as it is of academics wedded to abstractions and fundamentals. The gap persists because practitioners forget that ‘the’ real world is actually ‘a’ world that is idiosyncratic, egocentric and unique to each person complaining about relevance. Greater att...
Article
Growing attention to self-as-theorist threatens to shift reflexivity from a means to improve theory to an end in itself. Such a shift both muddles observations and conceals the possibility that reflexive liabilities are present-at-hand reconstructions of dissimilar ready-to-hand moments of data collection. Reflexivity lived forward differs, from re...
Article
Peer Reviewed http://deepblue.lib.umich.edu/bitstream/2027.42/68944/2/10.1177_105649269982005.pdf
Article
Recent analyses of organizational change suggest a growing concern with the tempo of change, understood as the characteristic rate, rhythm, or pattern of work or activity. Episodic change is contrasted with continuous change on the basis of implied metaphors of organizing, analytic frameworks, ideal organizations, intervention theories, and roles f...
Article
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This paper seeks to draw out commonalities between the organizational/practitioners' and academic agenda and to explore the idea that academe may not only reflect the times but also help to create them. In so doing, it examines the extent to which In Search of Excellence, a significant and timely exemplar of the organizational agenda, in effect ope...
Article
Recent analyses of organizational change suggest a growing concern with the tempo of change, understood as the characteristic rate, rhythm, or pattern of work or activity. Episodic change is contrasted with continuous change on the basis of implied metaphors of organizing, analytic frameworks, ideal organizations, intervention theories, and roles f...
Article
High Reliability Organizations (HROs) have been treated as exotic outliers in mainstream organizational theory because of their unique potentials for catastrophic consequences and interactively complex technology. We argue that HROs are more central to the mainstream because they provide a unique window into organizational effectiveness under tryin...
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Full-text available
Behind every successful performance, such as was the jazz symposium at the 1995 Academy of Management Conference, are people who have worked long and hard to try to ensure that the event will come to fruition; who have solved tricky problems and improvised ...
Article
Full-text available
Behind every successful performance, such as was the jazz symposium at the 1995 Academy of Management Conference, are people who have worked long and hard to try to ensure that the event will come to fruition; who have solved tricky problems and improvised ...
Article
Full-text available
Behind every successful performance, such as was the jazz symposium at the 1995 Academy of Management Conference, are people who have worked long and hard to try to ensure that the event will come to fruition; who have solved tricky problems and improvised ...
Article
Educational administrators often invoke the metaphor of fighting fires to describe the nature of their work. Recent research on wild and firefighting illustrates that the use of this metaphor is unusually apt. Nuances associated with fire fighting shed light on subtle conditions in educational organizations that increase their vulnerability to fail...
Article
The role of continuity in organizational learning has been given relatively little attention by people who try to improve learning. It is argued that if people view learning as a process of renewal rather than a process of transformation, they are more likely to preserve the continuity with past experience that is a pre-condition of learning.
Article
The abstract for this document is available on CSA Illumina.To view the Abstract, click the Abstract button above the document title.
Article
Theory-focused research, portrayed as an exercise in sense making that is driven by curiosity rather than compassion, outsider rather than insider views, divergent rather than convergent thinking, and knowledge growth by extension rather than intention, is contrasted with problem-focused research. A research agenda for organizational behavior, writ...
Article
The Tenerife air disaster, in which a KLM 747 and a Pan Am 747 collided with a loss of 583 lives, is examined as a prototype of system vulnerability to crisis. It is concluded that the combination of interruption of important routines among interdependent systems, interdependencies that become tighter, a loss of cognitive efficiency due to autonomi...
Article
The charge that the OD Division of the Academy of Management is a group from which "the zest is gone" is explored in an address to this division. Several images are presented regarding ways of observing and learning. OD professionals are advised to perform reconnaissance, which is defined as lowering one's defenses, seeing fully, looking again at t...
Article
Full-text available
Diverse applications of the concept of loose coupling are embodied in five recurring voices that focus separately on causation, typology, effects, compensations, and outcomes. Each has a tendency to drift away from a dialectical interpretation of loose coupling toward a unidimensional interpretation of loose coupling, thereby weakening the explanat...
Article
Diverse applications of the concept of loose coupling are embodied in five recurring voices that focus separately on causation, typology, effects, compensations, and outcomes. Each has a tendency to drift away from a dialectical interpretation of loose coupling toward a unidimensional interpretation of loose coupling, thereby weakening the explanat...
Article
This essay uses twenty years of research into organizing as a way both of viewing current research efforts and of laying a foundation for future efforts. Since organizing can be conceived as a continuous flow of movement that people try to coordinate with a continuous flow of input, jazz is used as a metaphor for understanding organizing. Variation...
Article
Reliable performance in complex systems is determined in part by the ade quacy with which mental models of the system capture accurately the dimen sions of system coupling and system complexity. Failure to register coupling and complexity leads the observer to intervene into an imagined technology that does not exist and to convert opportunities fo...
Article
As people transmit information through a communication chain, they drop details, add interpretations, and alter implications. To answer the question, are these losses and alterations reversible, subjects completed a serial reproduction task and then sent the simplified result through the system a second time to see if the lost features would be reg...
Article
Sensemaking in crisis conditions is made more difficult because action that is instrumental to understanding the crisis often intensifies the crisis. This dilemma is interpreted from the perspective that people enact the environments which constrain them. It is argued that commitment, capacity, and expectations affect sensemaking during crisis and...
Article
Organizations in which reliable performance is a more pressing issue than efficient performance often must learn to cope with incomprehensible technologies by means other than trial and error, since the cost of failure is too high. Discovery and consistent application of substitutes for trial and error—such as imagination, simulation, vicarious exp...
Article
This review highlights the relevance of argumentation and narration for organizational communication, which is the exchange of information among organizational participants from which meaning is inferred. The links between argument and organizational rationality and between the narrative paradigm and organizational storytelling are discussed. Organ...
Article
One of the great challenges any business or organization can face is how to deal with the unexpected. While traditional managerial practices such as planning are designed to manage unexpected threats, they often make things worse. How do you organize for high performance in a setting where the potential for error and disaster is overwhelming? In th...

Citations

... Findings from earlier studies show that conceptualization of the learning can help students give meaning to their collective experiences and thus improve their perceived self-efficacy (students' beliefs in their capabilities [Bandura, 1986]) as well as encourage meaningful learning (Weick et al., 2005). ...
... Action is also taken immediately during the sensemaking process because it allows further interpretation of the situation (Weick et al., 2005). The actions taken are based on a hypothesis that is tested by the outcome (Weick, 2020). The outcome is fed back to the frame of understanding, which leads to a more comprehensive pool of information on which to draw and on which to base future understandings. ...
... Sixth, because the team used concurrent engineering, many issues could be expected due to the overlapping of phases. By identifying relations and interactions among key entities of the project, we add to the understanding of how project teams in dynamic environments are able to effectively handle a range of emergent issues (Maloney et al., 2016;Waller et al., 2016;Weick, 2017). We show how collective intelligence (Weick & Roberts, 1993;Woolley et al., 2010) organized with trust, situation awareness, creation of task-relevant subteams, and direct communication counteract the negative effects of time and performance pressure. ...
... In such organization a quasi-independent component is able to meet problems in isolation, without endangering the greater system in its entirety. (Weick, 2019). This can be illustrated by a differential mechanical device in an automobile. ...
... Transparansi dalam pelaksanaan proses penjaminan mutu merupakan hal positif dalam membangun perilaku organisasi yang sehat (Weick, 2017). Perilaku organisasi yang sehat menjadi factor penting dalam sebuah proses penjaminan mutu (Fasasi, 2006). ...
... In contrast to a focus on individual stress management through MBSR and related mindfulness training programs, collective mindfulness is a social construct, defined as a group's capability to notice significant issues and emergent errors in situations and to jointly act on what they observe (Weick et al., 2000). In other words, employees acting mindfully on a collective scale manage stress collectively: they are able to anticipate, detect, and appropriately respond to unexpected, stressful problems (Weick et al., 1999;Weick and Sutcliffe, 2007). ...
... Coupling concerns the overall intensity of the linkages between actors when co-creating new yet complex value. Theories of organization have long reasoned that, by absorbing environmental cues, any organizational form will exhibit two distinct structures: responsiveness and distinctiveness (Orton & Weick, 1990). Within our framework, responsiveness (the share of the white colour of different actor shapes) reflects the extent to which actors need to align consistently with the innovation actions/activities of others, whereas distinctiveness (the share of the black colour of different actor shapes) signifies the extent to which actors need to remain separate from others vis-à-vis innovation activities. ...
... way we do things around here' . 17 Safety culture cannot be measured, but many surveys have been developed to measure safety attitudes, which are best referred to as 'safety climate' . Much has been written about culture in general and specifically in healthcare. ...
... Improving safety also means "Commitment to resilience" i.e., reinforcing all the processes that produce collective mindfulness within the multidisciplinary team [12]. The training should focus on specific activities aimed at strengthening resilience [29,38] in order to make them become a "habit" [32]. Leaders need strong and sustainable solutions effective at preventing the occurrence and recurrence of AEs. ...
... We do not consider all sensemaking to be adaptive. Sensemaking can be viewed as the act of either affirming or disconfirming the appropriateness of interpretations and actions(Weick, 2016). Most sensemaking might therefore be construed as assessing whether experienced or observed events meet expectations. ...