Managing Change in Extreme Contexts: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Managing Change in Extreme Contexts

1st Edition

Edited by David Denyer, Colin Pilbeam


324 pages | 20 B/W Illus.

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Hardback: 9780415532808
pub: 2015-01-13
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Extreme events such as accidents, crises and disasters occur in organizations of all types. Sometimes these hit the headlines, but they also occur regularly beyond the public gaze. What follows is normally an investigation in which ‘lessons will be learned’ and the event ‘must never happen again’. These produce recommendations to limit the damage from a future event, or to prevent it altogether. In many cases, this doesn’t happen, and the changes are not implemented. Why should this be the case?

Containing a unique collection of cross-sector and international case studies, this book investigates the conditions and processes that encourage or inhibit change after an extreme event. There are nine research-based cases including: a re-examination of change in Haringey Social Services in the aftermath of the deaths of Victoria Climbié and ‘Baby P’; a leak at Sellafield Nuclear reprocessing plant; an explosion on an offshore gas platform operated by Centrica Storage, and the multi-agency response to bush fires in Australia.

In providing a comprehensive analysis of organizational change and crisis management, the book identifies a common event sequence and recurrent issues, themes and mechanisms. The cross-case analysis provides both unique insights into organizational change following extreme events and realistic guidance for improving change implementation. The result is a resource that will be vital reading for advanced students, researchers and managers involved with organizational studies and crisis management.


‘The field of Organizational Change needs a book dedicated to the nature of change in extreme events. I welcome this book as a great contribution in advancing our understanding of the nature of such changes in a range of contexts, especially as it draws attention to the modes of learning crisis which invites all those involved to engage in.’ - Elena P. Antonacopoulou, Professor, GNOSIS, University of Liverpool Management School, UK

‘Denyer, Pilbeam and contributors have used a set of diverse and affecting cases to give researchers and practitioners a common event sequence that are a powerful set of tools for understanding and undoing the mess of change in extreme contexts.’ - Timothy J. Vogus, Associate Professor of Management, Vanderbilt Owen Graduate School of Management, USA

'This book focuses on an often forgotten phase of emergency management. I am pleased to see this gap being filled.' - Caroline McMullan, Director of MSc Emergency Management, Dublin City University, Ireland

Table of Contents

Part I: The context 1.What’s the problem? (David A. Buchanan and David Denyer) Part II: Incident analyses 2.Fatal failures to change? The case of Haringey social care (Dominic Elliott and Allan Macpherson) 3.Mayland, Torrens and Mitcham (David A. Buchanan, David Denyer and Cíara Moore) 4.‘A firefighter is a firefighter is a firefighter’: the breakdown of sensemaking and leadership at Richley fire station (David Denyer) 5.‘Stay or go’? The 2009 Victorian bushfires (Martina K. Linnenluecke and Andrew Griffiths) 6.Wattle Park Hospital – responding to an outbreak of the Norovirus (Clare Kelliher) Part III: Addressing the problems 7.Who to blame: losing sight of the big picture (Colin Pilbeam) 8.No slippage: sustaining control of healthcare acquired infections (Colin Pilbeam and David A. Buchanan) 9.THORP: leading change in extreme contexts (David Denyer) 10.Towards a high reliability organization at CSL (David Denyer and Glenn Sibbick) Part IV: Conclusions 11.Crisis leadership competencies and development by the use of advanced learning simulations (Albert Angehrn and Alexander Fliaster) 12.Approaches to post-crisis change (Colin Pilbeam and David Denyer)

About the Editors

David Denyer is Professor of Organizational Change at Cranfield University, UK

Colin Pilbeam is Senior Research Fellow in Organization Studies at Cranfield University, UK

About the Series

Routledge Studies in Organizational Change & Development

It is often stated that some 70% of all change projects fail. Though this figure can be disputed, it is nevertheless clear that managing change is one of the most difficult tasks facing organizations today. In response to this, writers offer a wide range of theories and advice designed to aid managers and scholars in understanding and managing change, but which seem merely to overwhelm them with a profusion of competing and conflicting advice and approaches. In many respects, change is a field which epitomises the ‘rigor-relevance’ debate. We have many approaches to change which are built on sound research and robust theories, but which appear to lack relevance for managers. We also have a vast array of nostrums, practices and tools which managers use, but which appear to lack methodological or theoretical foundations.

The aim of this series is to cut through the confusion surrounding the study and practice of change by providing comprehensive and in-depth studies of existing and emerging approaches to change. The rationale for the series is that we cannot understand organizational change sufficiently nor implement it effectively unless we can evaluate the various approaches in terms of the evidence which underpins them, what they seek to achieve and how and where they can be applied. In particular, the series seeks to address, but is not limited to, the following questions:

  • What are the emerging themes in the field of organizational change?
  • Which theories and approaches to change have stood the test of time?
  • What are the key debates within the field?
  • How has the field been influenced by and incorporated newer approaches to organizational life, such as postmodernism, social constructionism, critical realism, and complexity theories?
  • What is the current status of OD (organization development)?
  • To what extent have countries in Asia, Africa, the Middle East and South America developed their own distinct approaches to change?
  • How are developments such as social media and virtual organizations affecting the way organizations perceive and carry out change?
  • Do successful organizations adopt different approaches to change than unsuccessful ones, or do they use the same approaches but more effectively?

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Organizational Behavior