Information Disasters in Networked Organizations

Information Disasters in Networked Organizations

Josep Cobarsí Morales (Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, Spain)
Copyright: © 2008 |Pages: 8
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-885-7.ch094
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Most disasters, such as wars, massacres or cultural meltdown, are generated or made worse by human acts. For thousands of years, man-made disasters have often been more destructive than those caused by nature, such as hurricanes, floods or earthquakes. Information mismanagement is a major cause of man-made disasters. Incidents and errors are common and inevitable in any system or environment involving humans, and constitute potential threats. Nonetheless, serious damage can be prevented by providing decision- makers with key data in time or by presenting key information in a usable and useful way. In many complex socio-technical contexts and situations, optimal practical prevention is not easy. The late industrial age saw a wide range of man-made disasters, where information mismanagement was the major cause of many catastrophic events, typically produced as the result a massive and unexpected surge of energy—a conceptual framework was established by Turner (1978). In the knowledge society’s information intensive organizations and environments, information disasters will be the most common and far-reaching, catalysed by a much greater degree of interconnection and a higher likelihood of situations of information overload. The results may not always be as tangible as energy, and may be as intangible as damage to an organization’s prestige, for instance. The need to update the framework for man-made disasters was stressed by a number of authors in the 1990s. A summary of the efforts to update this framework and some key ideas from recent studies and bibliography are set out in the following.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Information Disaster: A disaster triggered or made worse by information mismanagement

Disaster: A sudden accident or a natural catastrophe that causes great damage or loss of life

Information Overload: A situation where relevant information becomes buried in a mass of irrelevant information

Microdisaster: A series of repeated minor adverse events, which together constitute a disaster

Man-Made Disaster: An event concentrated in time and space, which threatens a society or a relatively self-sufficient subdivision of a society with major unwanted consequences as a result of the collapse of precautions which had hitherto been culturally accepted as adequate

Almost-Disaster or Quasi-Disaster: A situation near to real disaster, useful in preventing real disasters

Organisational Social Network: A set of informal connections between peers in an organisation

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