Mission Improbable: Using Fantasy Documents to Tame Disaster

3.88 avg rating
( 17 ratings by Goodreads )
 
9780226109411: Mission Improbable: Using Fantasy Documents to Tame Disaster

How does the government or a business plan for an unimaginable disaster-a meltdown at a nuclear power plant, a gigantic oil spill, or a nuclear attack? Lee Clarke examines actual attempts to "prepare" for these catastrophes and finds that the policies adopted by corporations and government agencies are fundamentally rhetorical: the plans have no chance to succeed, yet they serve both the organizations and the public as symbols of control, order, and stability. These "fantasy documents" attempt to inspire confidence in organizations, but for Clarke they are disturbing persuasions, soothing our perception that we ultimately cannot control our own technological advances.

For example, Clarke studies corporations' plans for cleaning up oil spills in Prince William Sound prior to the Exxon Valdez debacle, and he finds that the accepted strategies were not just unrealistic but completely untenable. Although different organizations were required to have a cleanup plan for huge spills in the sound, a really massive spill was unprecedented, and the accepted policy was little more than a patchwork of guesses based on (mostly unsuccessful) cleanups after smaller accidents.

While we are increasingly skeptical of big organizations, we still have no choice but to depend on them for protection from large-scale disasters. We expect their specialists to tell the truth, and yet, as Clarke points out, reassuring rhetoric (under the guise of expert prediction) may have no basis in fact or truth because no such basis is attainable.

In uncovering the dangers of planning when implementation is a fantasy, Clarke concludes that society would be safer, smarter, and fairer if organizations could admit their limitations.

"An incursion into new territory written with insight and flair, Clarke's book achieves a revolution in understanding plans as an organizational activity-how they come about, why they go awry, and the often-disastrous disconnect between plans and an organization's ability to carry them out. A book that will fascinate general readers, administrators, organization theorists, and disaster buffs, Mission Improbable stands as a valuable companion volume to Pressman and Wildavsky's Implementation."—Diane Vaughan, author of The Challenger Launch Decision

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

From the Inside Flap:

An airplane is hijacked by terrorists, an explosion is imminent at Three Mile Island, the president has been shot. How do governments and corporations deal with these sorts of catastrophes? In this provocative book, Lee Clarke examines how institutions build contingency plans for the grim but often very real potential massive disaster. He argues that they sometimes create "fantasy documents," rhetorical tools used to convince audiences that experts are in charge and that all is well. Fantasy documents, however, can actually increase risk because they give people a false sense of security. Getting to the core of this ever-topical issue, Mission Improbable makes the case that society would be better off-and safer-if managers and experts could admit they can't control the uncontrollable.

About the Author:

Lee Clarke is a sociologist at Rutgers University. He is the author of Acceptable Risk? Making Decisions in a Toxic Environment and coauthor of Organizations, Uncertainties, and Risk.

"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.

Top Search Results from the AbeBooks Marketplace

1.

Clarke
Published by Univ of Chicago
ISBN 10: 0226109410 ISBN 13: 9780226109411
New Hardcover Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
Rating
[?]

Book Description Univ of Chicago. Book Condition: BRAND NEW. BRAND NEW Hardcover A Brand New Quality Book from a Full-Time Bookshop in business since 1992!. Bookseller Inventory # 2553028

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 43.94
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

2.

Clarke, Lee
ISBN 10: 0226109410 ISBN 13: 9780226109411
New Quantity Available: 10
Seller:
Paperbackshop-US
(Wood Dale, IL, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description 1999. HRD. Book Condition: New. New Book. Shipped from US within 10 to 14 business days. Established seller since 2000. Bookseller Inventory # TX-9780226109411

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 41.77
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 3.99
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

3.

Lee Clarke
Published by University of Chicago press
ISBN 10: 0226109410 ISBN 13: 9780226109411
New Quantity Available: > 20
Seller:
INDOO
(Avenel, NJ, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description University of Chicago press. Book Condition: New. Brand New. Bookseller Inventory # 0226109410

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 43.31
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 3.50
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

4.

Lee Clarke
Published by University Of Chicago Press (1999)
ISBN 10: 0226109410 ISBN 13: 9780226109411
New Hardcover Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
Ergodebooks
(RICHMOND, TX, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description University Of Chicago Press, 1999. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. 1. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX0226109410

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 47.16
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 3.99
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

5.

Lee Clarke
Published by The University of Chicago Press, United States (1999)
ISBN 10: 0226109410 ISBN 13: 9780226109411
New Hardcover Quantity Available: 10
Seller:
Book Depository hard to find
(London, United Kingdom)
Rating
[?]

Book Description The University of Chicago Press, United States, 1999. Hardback. Book Condition: New. 2nd ed.. Language: English . This book usually ship within 10-15 business days and we will endeavor to dispatch orders quicker than this where possible. Brand New Book. This text examines actual attempts to prepare for catastrophes and finds that the policies adopted by corporations and government agencies are fundamentally rhetorical: the plans have no chance to succeed, yet they serve both the organizations and the public as symbols of control, order and stability. These fantasy documents attempt to inspire confidence in organizations, but Lee Clarke suggests that they are disturbing persuasions, soothing the perception that ultimately one cannot control technological advances. For example, Clarke studies corporations plans for cleaning up oil spills in Prince William Sound prior to the Exxon Valdez debacle, and he finds that the accepted strategies were not just unrealistic but completely untenable. Although different organizations were required to have a cleanup plan for huge spills in the sound, a really massive spill was unprecedented, and the accepted policy was little more than a patchwork of guesses based on (mostly unsuccessful) cleanups after smaller accidents. Clarke points out that reassuring rhetoric (under the guise of expert prediction) may have no basis in fact or truth because no such basis is attainable. In uncovering the dangers of planning when implementation is a fantasy, Clark concludes that society would be safer, smarter, and fairer if organizations could admit their limitations. Bookseller Inventory # BTE9780226109411

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 54.12
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
From United Kingdom to U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

6.

Clarke, Lee
Published by The University of Chicago Pres (1999)
ISBN 10: 0226109410 ISBN 13: 9780226109411
New Hardcover Quantity Available: 2
Seller:
Murray Media
(North Miami Beach, FL, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description The University of Chicago Pres, 1999. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Never used!. Bookseller Inventory # P110226109410

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 60.59
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 1.99
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

7.

Clarke, Lee
Published by The University of Chicago Press
ISBN 10: 0226109410 ISBN 13: 9780226109411
New Hardcover Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
Cloud 9 Books
(Wellington, FL, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description The University of Chicago Press. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. 0226109410 New Condition. Bookseller Inventory # NEW7.0052077

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 59.99
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 4.99
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

8.

Lee Clarke
Published by University Of Chicago Press (1999)
ISBN 10: 0226109410 ISBN 13: 9780226109411
New Hardcover Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
Revaluation Books
(Exeter, United Kingdom)
Rating
[?]

Book Description University Of Chicago Press, 1999. Hardcover. Book Condition: Brand New. 1st edition. 225 pages. 9.50x6.50x0.75 inches. In Stock. Bookseller Inventory # 0226109410

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 68.33
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 7.92
From United Kingdom to U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

9.

Lee Ben Clarke
ISBN 10: 0226109410 ISBN 13: 9780226109411
New Hardcover Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
AussieBookSeller
(SILVERWATER, NSW, Australia)
Rating
[?]

Book Description 1999. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. 2nd. Hardcover. This text examines actual attempts to prepare for catastrophes and finds that the policies adopted by corporations and government agencies are fundamentally rhetorical: the pl.Shipping may be from our Sydney, NSW warehouse or from our UK or US warehouse, depending on stock availability. 225 pages. 0.458. Bookseller Inventory # 9780226109411

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 64.19
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 37.00
From Australia to U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds