Class IV: Organizing for High(er) Reliability

Provided by Jörg Sydow, Freie Universität Berlin

Guiding questions: What is organizational reliability? How do organizations stay reliable even in times of crisis? How can high reliability organizing be both a problem and a solution for organizing in times of war and armed conflict?



Core readings

Berthod, O., Grothe-Hammer, M., Müller-Seitz, G., Raab, J., & Sydow, J. (2017). From high-reliability organizations to high-reliability networks: the dynamics of network governance in the face of emergency. Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, 27(2), 352-371. PDF

Cantu, J., Tolk, J., Fritts, S., & Gharehyakheh, A. (2020). High reliability organization (HRO) systematic literature review: Discovery of culture as a foundational hallmark. Journal of Contingencies and Crisis Management, 28(4), 399-410. PDF

Contemporary news article

Helman, C. (2022). ‘Immediate risk’ of Putin nuclear power plant plot, says Ukraine energy CEO pleading for no-fly zone. Forbes, March 12.

Post-lecture assignment

Write a short (about 250 words each) memo about the following two questions:

  1. Nuclear power plants are a classic example of a High Reliability Organization (HRO). What can be learnt from HRO research about organizing for higher reliability in more mundane settings where reliable operations are threatened by war and armed conflict?
  2. What can be learnt from High Reliability Networks (HRN) such as those organized by the FED for the organization of reliable production and supply networks in times of war and armed conflict?

Background readings

Berthod, O., Grothe-Hammer, M., Hagen, R., & Sydow, J. (2021). Managing resource transposition in the face of extreme events: Fieldwork at two public networks in Germany and the US. Public Administration, 99, 171-188. PDF

Raab, J., Kenis, P. N., Kraaij-Dirkzwager, M., & Timen, A. (2020). Ex ante knowledge for infectious disease outbreaks. In: Glückler, J., Herrigel, G., & Handke, M. (Eds.) Knowledge for Governance. Berlin: Springer, 319-349. PDF

Staber, U., & Sydow, J. (2002). Organizational adaptive capacity: A structuration perspective. Journal of Management Inquiry, 11(4), 408-424. PDF

Sydow, J., Helfen, M., & Auschra, C. (2021). Re-thinking global production networks in the face of crises: A comment from Germany in light of Covid-19. Management and Organization Review, 17(2), 401-406. PDF