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Working Papers on Information Systems ISSN 1535-6078 Systemic Risk, IT Artifacts, and High Reliability Organizations: A Case of Constructing a Radical Architecture

By Jessica L. Carlo, Kalle Lyytinen and Richard J. Boland


"The test of a first-class mind is the ability to hold two opposing viewsâ ¦ at the same time and still retain the ability to function. " (F. Scott Fitzgerald) In distributed complex socio-technical systems, risks increasingly originate from multiple sources, affect multiple agents with divergent perspectives and thus become systemic. The traditional simple causal model of risk control and an individual decision-maker orientation is no longer adequate to contain such risks. This paper reports a detailed case study of a highly complex architectural project by Frank Gehry and his firm Gehry Partners, LLC. Gehry and his partners used the 3D representation software Catia tactfully in order to construct radical architectures with dauntingly complex geometric surfaces in spite of increasing systemic risks. Our findings suggest that, in order to successfully combat such risks, organizations rely upon organizing mechanisms characteristic of high reliability organizations (HROs). Our analysis also indicates that creating and maintaining a collective mindfulness is critical for risk control/mitigation in complex socio-technical systems. IT artifacts such as Catia, in combination with other social/technical actors such as skilled workers, contracts an

Topics: Risk, High reliability organizations (HROs, Distributed socio-technical systems, systemic risk, Collective mindfulness
Year: 2013
OAI identifier: oai:CiteSeerX.psu:
Provided by: CiteSeerX
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