Why People and Organizations Break Down

  • Ian I Mitroff
  • Can M. Alpaslan


One of the most difficult tasks facing humans is to become aware of and challenge their key operating assumptions before a major crisis has occurred. The only way to do this is to study a wide variety of crises both within and outside of one’s industry. In addition, one must continually study and review the assumptions under which one’s organization and technology operate. In this chapter, we focus on several operating assumptions that lead to technological and organizational breakdowns. We investigate why the reliance on technology is not always a good idea, why training is not enough, why organizational culture matters, why organizations mistake the absence of accidents for the presence of safe operations, and why organizations constantly drift away from safety into failure.


Terrorist Attack Bystander Intervention Major Crisis Helicopter Pilot Friendly Fire 
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Copyright information

© Ian I. Mitroff and Can M. Alpaslan 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ian I Mitroff
    • 1
  • Can M. Alpaslan
    • 2
  1. 1.Center for Catastrophic Risk Management, Haas School of BusinessUniversity of CaliforniaBerkeleyUSA
  2. 2.Department of ManagementCalifornia State UniversityNorthridgeUSA

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