Worth a Second Look?

Exploring the Power of Post-Mortems on Post-Mortems

Authored by: Roderick M. Kramer

Handbook of Qualitative Organizational Research

Print publication date:  December  2015
Online publication date:  November  2015

Print ISBN: 9781848725096
eBook ISBN: 9781315849072
Adobe ISBN: 9781317908784


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In a reflective moment during his brief but crisis-prone presidency, the late President John F. Kennedy once observed:

The essence of ultimate decision remains impenetrable to the observer—often, indeed, to the decider himself… . There will always be the dark and tangled stretches in the decision-making process—mysterious even to those who may be most intimately involved. (quoted in Allison & Zelikow, 1999, p. i)

Kennedy’s observation notwithstanding, organizational scholars have afforded considerable attention to explicating the antecedents of organizational decisions, especially those that have proven particularly catastrophic or costly (Janis, 1982). The aim of such research is to shed light on precisely those dark and tangled stretches where consequential decisions are evaluated and executed—with sometimes disastrous effects.

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