Beyond risk management: Managing the Unexpected

Andreas Nachbagauer

Publication: Chapter in book/Conference proceedingContribution to conference proceedings

Abstract

Modern organisations attempt to get a grip on uncertainties and disruptive incidents by anticipating changes as early as possible. Consequently, some organisations try to manage complexity by transferring it into defined, controllable structures and processes, aiming at the ability to deliver the desired strategic outcomes in a predictable and reliable manner. Others trust a high degree of freedom at the shop-floor and team level allowing for quicker decisions and self-determined choice to successfully respond to unexpected events. Both solutions demand for new procedures to manage the unexpected, focusing on the need to balance structure and flexibility. This conceptual article asks which structures make sense for organisations in complex or even chaotic environments. I will focus at the team and organisational level and foremost at the interaction between these two. By combining theoretical concepts of behavioural and organisational research, especially decision-making based on systems theory, situational awareness and sense-making, I aim to approach a more comprehensive discourse on ways of coping with the unexpected. Beyond common rational plan and command orientation, the article stresses the importance of a unique equilibrium of structure and autonomy for each given situation, organisation and team. Furthermore, I will argue that one can make use of autonomy and enable autonomous decisions on the shop-floor level just because one can rely on unquestioned structures: pre-determined communication paths, hierarchies, structures of orders, knowledge of one’s people and esprit de corps.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationIn Strategica 2017. Shift! Major Challenges of Today's Economy
Editors Faculty of Management (SNSPA)
Place of PublicationBucharest
PublisherFaculty of Management (SNSPA)
Pages1 - 14
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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