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Normal Organizational WrongdoingA Critical Analysis of Theories of Misconduct in and by Organizations$
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Donald Palmer

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199573592

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199573592.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use.date: 27 June 2022

Accidental Wrongdoing

Accidental Wrongdoing

(p.211) 10 Accidental Wrongdoing
Normal Organizational Wrongdoing

Donald Palmer

Oxford University Press

This chapter presents the accident explanation of organizational wrongdoing. This explanation is the fourth of five alternative accounts of wrongdoing considered in the book. It is rooted in the assumptions that organizational environments are complex and organizational participants are boundedly rational, assumptions that underpin several of the alternative explanations of wrongdoing considered to this point. This chapter argues that complexity and bounded rationality sometimes cause people to make mistakes and that sometimes mistakes constitute wrongdoing. It examines the factors that can give rise to accidents that constitute wrongdoing, analyzing them as the product of system failures at four levels of social organization: the individual, the small group, the formal organization, and the organizational field. Further, it distinguishes between two types of causal factors: faulty system design or operation and unavoidable system complexity and tight coupling (i.e. normal accidents). The chapter concludes with an overall assessment of the accident explanation.

Keywords:   organizational wrongdoing, complexity, bounded rationality, accidental wrongdoing, normal accidents

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