Bleg on Failure

March 5, 2012 at 10:05 am 5 comments

| Gabriel |

A friend is writing a trade book on failure and was interested in what sociologists have to say about it. 

The scope is pretty broad, including both people and organizations, why and to whom failure happens, and how things either prove robust to failure or are permanently trapped by it.

I’ve already suggested several things ranging from this to this, but was hoping my beloved readers could post some reading suggestions to the comments. I’m asking both because I like the author and think it will be a good book and also because it’s a good way to get our ideas out there. That is, if you don’t suggest things now, you don’t get to bitch later that nobody pays attention to sociological research.

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  • 1. Dan Hirschman  |  March 5, 2012 at 10:11 am

    John Downer’s AJS on “the Sociology of Inevitable Failure” might be useful, as a newer addition to works like Diane Vaughan’s stuff on the Challenger disaster and Charles Perrow’s Normal Accidents. The Markets on Trial volume (economic sociologists writing about the financial crisis) is also interesting, especially the debate between Perrow and others about whether the financial crisis can be reasonably thought of as a normal accident (Perrow says no).

  • 2. Bill  |  March 5, 2012 at 10:44 am

    Meyer, Marshall W., and Lynne G. Zucker. 1989. Permanently failing organizations: Sage Publications Beverly Hills, CA.

  • 3. edward walker  |  March 5, 2012 at 10:52 am

    Seconded on the (ahem, very appropriately named) Downer piece.

    Our colleague Lynne Zucker’s book with Marshall Meyer on Permanently Failing Organizations also comes immediately to mind.

    From the other side, Padgett and Powell’s new big book on emergence might be useful once published, as it has some (naturally very sophisticated) discussion of contingencies in the early development of orgs. and markets.

    McCarthy and I also have a paper on failure processes among low-income community organizations. [GHR edit 3/5/12 12:46pm: fixed the link]

  • 4. Melissa  |  March 30, 2012 at 9:39 am

    I’m a little late to the party here, but Summers Effler’s 2010 book Laughing Saints and Righteous Heroes might also be helpful.

    • 5. gabrielrossman  |  March 30, 2012 at 10:33 am

      passed it on, thanks

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