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Making Sense of Organizational Failure: The Marconi Debacle

By Jacqueline Kam

Abstract

Abstract Organizational failure is usually explained with linear causality, attributed to either environmental change or managerial behavior. This paper attempts to capture the dynamic interplays of human actions in changing environments, taking into account both the environmental and behavioral factors. The breath‐taking debacle of Marconi, a British telecommunications equipment supplier, is examined, revealing the complexities and interrelatedness of the environmental change and human actions, and the consequences for organizational performance. This research is intended to develop thinking about organizational failure, to broaden perspectives currently framed by conventional boundaries, and to encourage a new approach in making sense of failure. Failure may seem obvious and its understanding simple; in fact, failure is an elusive concept and the simplicity commonly attached to its understanding is dangerously deceptive.organizational failure, dynamics, environmental and behavioral factors, Marconi, telecommunications,

DOI identifier: 10.1080/08109020500350252
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