Policy Sciences

, Volume 7, Issue 2, pp 133–149

On tolerating policy and organizational termination: Some design considerations

  • Robert P. Biller

DOI: 10.1007/BF00143911

Cite this article as:
Biller, R.P. Policy Sci (1976) 7: 133. doi:10.1007/BF00143911


This essay explores some factors that have led us to expect perpetuity rather than termination as normal in dealing with policies and organizations. After suggesting that this is a dangerous assumption where change and uncertainty are sufficient to require substantial adaptive capacity, it is proposed that a model tolerant of acting to make termination either more or less likely is preferred. Given that we already know how to invest to make termination less likely, the next two sections explore some strategies that may allow termination to be more easily tolerated, and the learning incident to its existence increased. The first explores the use of matrix models of organization to institutionalize the capacity for initiating and terminating temporary projects within organizations. The second section suggests several external mechanisms (savings banks, insurance policies, receivership referees, trust officers, salvage specialists, and marriage/divorce/ escrow brokerages) that could operate to make termination of policies and organizations less difficult.

Copyright information

© Elsevier Scientific Publishing Company 1976

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert P. Biller
    • 1
  1. 1.Graduate School of Public Policy, University of CaliforniaBerkeleyU.S.A.

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