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The Limits of Safety: Organizations, Accidents and Nuclear Weapons (Princeton Studies in International History and Politics) (Englisch) Taschenbuch – 29. Januar 1995


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Produktinformation

  • Taschenbuch: 304 Seiten
  • Verlag: Princeton University Press; Auflage: New Ed (29. Januar 1995)
  • Sprache: Englisch
  • ISBN-10: 0691021015
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691021010
  • Größe und/oder Gewicht: 15,2 x 1,9 x 22,9 cm
  • Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: 5.0 von 5 Sternen  Alle Rezensionen anzeigen (1 Kundenrezension)
  • Amazon Bestseller-Rang: Nr. 404.596 in Fremdsprachige Bücher (Siehe Top 100 in Fremdsprachige Bücher)
  • Komplettes Inhaltsverzeichnis ansehen

Produktbeschreibungen

Pressestimmen

Winner of the 1993 Best Book Award, Science, Technology, and Environmental Studies Section of the American Political Science Association "An extraordinary book... Normal accidents theory and high reliability theory took the theory of accidents out of the hands of economists and engineers and put it into the hands of organization theorists; Sagan has brought that theory of accidents much closer to maturity."--Charles Perrow, Journal of Contingencies and Crisis Management "Scott Sagan's book is nothing less than a tour de force... It is by far the most carefully researched and painstaking study of nuclear weapons safety ever written."--Bruce G. Blair, Security Studies "Sagan's stories also drive a wooden stake through the heart of rational choice nuclear deterrence theory. This book will make you scared ... will make you hold your children a little tighter at the end of the day."--Lee Clarke, Sociological Forum "Sagan shows, both explicitly for nuclear weapons and implicitly for intellectual systems, that neither learning nor disasters are essentially matters of improving O-rings, safety procedures, or t-tests, as participants within those systems would like to believe. The primary adaptive action is offstage--in the background framework itself. And at that level, through sheer volume of its data, Sagan's book will shape the way that policymakers and we (with a little less confidence) understand the nuclear world."--Contemporary Sociology "Grounded in original research in U.S. national security archives, [Limits of Safety] reveals a disturbing history of near-catastrophes in the handling of nuclear weapons and bombers... This book is a significant contribution to ... international security studies, organizational theory, and risk analysis."--American Political Science Review

Synopsis

Environmental tragedies such as Chernobyl and the Exxon Valdez remind us that catastrophic accidents are always possible in a world full of hazardous technologies. Yet, the apparent excellent safety record with nuclear weapons has led scholars, policy-makers, and the public alike to believe that nuclear arsenals can serve as a secure deterrent for the foreseeable future. In this provocative book, Scott Sagan challenges such optimism. Sagan's research into formerly classified archives penetrates the veil of safety that has surrounded U.S. nuclear weapons and reveals a hidden history of frightening "close calls" to disaster.

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This important and informative book by Dr. Sagan should be must reading for all U.S. policymakers, the leadership of other nuclear nations and those aspiring to be so. His arugments about the dangers involved in trying to prevent accidents with nuclear weapons is eye-opening and gives one reason for concern. New nuclear nations lack the technical infrastructure enjoyed by the West and Russia. This increases the risk of the unintended use of nuclear weapons. The clear message of the book is that we must move more forcefully in reducing the nuclear threat in all its diemsnions.
This ia a must read for all Christians concerned peacemaking that goes beyond mere sentiment.
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Die hilfreichsten Kundenrezensionen auf Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 8 Rezensionen
17 von 18 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Highly recommendable book on systems safety. 4. Mai 2001
Von Frank Huess Hedlund - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Scott Sagan examines the safety of the US nuclear weapons command organisations employing two opposing theoretical lines of thought: the so-called high reliability school and the normal accident school.
High reliability theory holds that accidents can be prevented through good organisational design, that safety is the priority organisational objective, that redundancy enhances safety, and that trial-and-error learning from near-misses can be effective. The contrasting perspective is that of normal accident theory in which the author combines Charles Perrow's system accident theory with theories of bounded rationality, specifically the garbage can theory of organisational behaviour by Cohen, March and Olsen. This view holds that accidents are inevitable in complex and tightly coupled systems, that safety is only one of a number of competing objectives, that redundancy increases the complexity and opaqueness of the system and thereby may compromise safety (indeed the provocative view that redundancy may even cause accidents) and that political infighting is a serious barrier to organisational learning.
After having laid out the propositions and assumptions of these competing theories, the books addresses the basic question of which of the two theories is more accurate drawing from analysis of the Cuban missile crisis, the B52 Thule bomber crash, the performance of US missile warning systems, and others. This selection of case studies is a tough test for normal accident theory. One would expect that the all-pervasive and dreadful consequences of an accidental nuclear war would make nuclear weapons safety a first priority at all levels of all involved organisations. The reader is left un-reassured of this. Scott Sagan provides numerous examples of political infighting, of organised cover-up, of normalisation of errors, of reinterpretation of failure as success, and of conflicts over parochial interests which are serious barriers to organisation learning. This is unpleasant reading, not the least because Sagan's account is limited to US experience only.
The implications of the issues raised in this book go far beyond nuclear weapons safety. Arguments are carefully reasoned, conclusions balanced, the style of writing clear, yet all details appear meticulously researched. 5 stars.
20 von 24 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Sagan and organizational theory 14. November 2001
Von Robert Quackenbush - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
With nuclear technology entering its seventh decade of use, one may have surmised that issues surrounding the safety of this technology would be well agreed upon with a consensus view of the potential pitfalls involved in nuclear security. However, as Scott Sagan reveals in his book called The Limits of Safety, the problems surrounding atomic safety lie not in the components of the system, but in the paradigm that structures our view of atomic safety. By highlighting near misses from the Cuban Missile Crisis and other events, Sagan uncovers how close the world may have come to accidental detonations and possible accidental nuclear war. Sagan interprets these events from two different perspectives concerning organizational learning: the high reliability organization learning theory (an optimistic view of nuclear safety) and the normal accident theory (more pessimistic). These perspectives present and interpret the near misses in totally different lights, as this analysis of the competing paradigms of nuclear safety is the essence of his work. Based on his research, Sagan was forced to change his prior view of nuclear safety and concludes with recommendations to make nuclear weapon systems more secure.
High reliability theory holds that accidents can be prevented through good organizational design, that safety is the priority organizational objective (development of a "high reliability culture"), that redundancy enhances safety, and that trial-and-error learning from near misses can be effective (implying use of sophisticated forms of trial-and-error organizational theory). Essentially, this model argues that accidents can be avoided given the proper set of precautions and organizational learning. Given that there have never been any (known) unauthorized detonations of nuclear weapons, one may conclude that the high reliability model accurately describes the realities of nuclear safety thus far. However, the weaknesses in such a perspective concerning nuclear safety do not become evident until examining normal accidents theory.
Greatly influenced by Charles Perrow's book called Normal Accidents and by integrating these ideas with the garbage can theory of organizational behavior creates Sagan's normal accident model of organizations. This view holds that accidents are inevitable in complex and tightly coupled systems, that safety is only one of a number of competing objectives, that redundancy increases the complexity and opaqueness of the system and thereby may compromise safety (indeed the provocative view that redundancy may even cause accidents) and that political infighting is a serious barrier to organizational learning. This model perceives organizations as rational actors capable of mistakes, and it emphasizes the structural and political nature of nuclear safety.
The weaknesses of high reliability theory then become more evident once the alternative is presented. First, inconsistent goals and conflicting interests are inherent in organizations, and this can increase the probability of accidents. Second, redundancies in features of nuclear safety can actually increase risks. This is due to systems that are not independent of each other interacting in unexpected ways. Also, the overlap in systems caused by redundancy makes mistakes less visible. Thus, organizations are unlikely to adjust for mistakes that they do not perceive exist. Third, some accidents cannot be anticipated. Hence, effective contingency plans may not exist. Lastly, the politics of nuclear safety places restrictions on organizational learning. As Sagan asserts, blame for accidents is often misplaced at low levels in the organization (operator error, for example) instead of addressing problems inherent in the system of nuclear oversight. Sagan is also quick to point out that high reliability theory implies a full disclosure of high-risk (or near miss) nuclear incidents that does not exist. He indicates that much of the information he obtained via the Freedom of Information Act is only a partial account of nuclear accidents in the U.S. military.
After having laid out the propositions and assumptions of these competing theories, the books addresses the basic question of which of the two theories is more accurate drawing from analysis of the Cuban missile crisis, the B-52 Thule bomber crash, the performance of US missile warning systems (specifically in false alarms in 1979 and 1980), and others. This selection of case studies is a tough test for normal accident theory. One would expect that the all-pervasive and dreadful consequences of an accidental nuclear war would make nuclear weapons safety a first priority at all levels of all involved organizations. The reader is left un-reassured of this. Scott Sagan provides numerous examples of political infighting, of organized cover-up, of normalization of errors, of reinterpretation of failure as success, and of conflicts over parochial interests that are serious barriers to organization learning. This is unsettling reading, not the least because Sagan's account is limited to U.S. experience only; the Kremlin does not permit access to its records on nuclear safety.
The research presented by Sagan has major implications for the effectiveness of the theory of deterrence to prevent (accidental) nuclear war. To quote the author, "In light of evidence presented here, the belief that nuclear deterrence can prevent nuclear war under all circumstances should be seen as exactly that: a belief, not a fact" (262). Sagan then listed reasons to doubt the effectiveness of intended deterrence. First, even at the height of the Cold War, the US and USSR did not easily control their nuclear forces. Thus problems in command-and-control operations still exist today. Second, given that the superpowers were unable to structure their nuclear systems in such a way to make accidents impossible, states that will develop nuclear weapons in the future are sure to be less stable than the US and USSR were in their nuclear infancy, thus making nuclear accidents more likely. Third, emerging nuclear powers are under pressing security threats and may perceive the need to keep their nuclear arsenals on high state of readiness. Although the book was written before 1998, the emergence of India and Pakistan as nuclear powers represents these threats to intended nuclear deterrence.
3 von 3 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
A review to offset Shawn Hughes 7. März 2010
Von Homer Simpson - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
This is an incredibly well-written and important book. It is a rare case where primary research is used to make some very fundamental points in a highly readable way. It deserves a very wide readership.

The scope of the book is clearly accounted for in its subtitle "Organizations, Accidents, and Nuclear Weapons" so I do not think it is appropriate to slam it just because it did not gratify with enough technical details about nukes. Now if the titles was "Cool Nuclear Accidents That Will Blow You Away When You Read The Gory Details" well, then, I would understand a 2-star review a little more...
8 von 11 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Two interesting topics 31. März 2003
Von Howdy Pierce - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Sagan examines the safety record of the Strategic Air Command, the organization responsible for US land- and air-based nuclear weapons, as a way to contrast two different theories about how organizations that deal with high-risk technologies avoid accidents. The more optimistic theory is known as the High Reliability theory: it holds that organizations can hope to prevent all accidents through a strong organizational emphasis on safety; redundancy (in both the technological and human senses); and a commitment to organizational learning. The pessimistic theory is known as the Normal Accidents theory: it holds that organizations are driven by internal politics, that greater levels of redundancy can actually cause accidents, and that what Sagan calls "tight coupling" between processes can cause small mishaps to rapidly escalate into major disasters. The book is well-written and about as riveting as a book on this topic can be, and I learned a lot about US nuclear weapons history. (It's amazing we survived the Cold War.) Sagan is considerably hampered in his choice of topic - you have to assume that more skeletons are hiding in the military's top-secret closet - and as Sagan admits, it is difficult to draw any conclusions regarding safety from near-accidents. (Is a near accident evidence that redundancy in the system works as designed, or is it evidence that, under slightly different circumstances, a major disaster could have happened? Sagan favors the latter interpretation.) Thought-provoking.
Outstanding Review of Military Denial 6. Dezember 2014
Von H. Campbell - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
This is an excellent analysis of how the military routinely lies, distorts and misinforms about its litany of failures in avoiding nuclear weapons incidents. By contrasting the two theories of safety reliability versus normal accidents, Sagan persuasively demonstrates how the US Air Force has failed to incorporate numerous past experiences into its institutional learning. By citing several scary near-misses and mishaps, Sagan shows how lucky the US has been in avoiding a domino-effect cascade of errors resulting in nuclear detonations. While the safety reliability advocates may insist that the to-date avoidance of such a disaster validates their position, Sagan counter-argues that the incidents show how that theory fails to live up to its central creeds, e.g., avoiding excessively complex redundancy systems and learning lessons. He posits that it's just a matter of time before we do experience such a nuke catastrophe. The scariest part for me was realizing that Sagan exposed merely the tippiest tip of a deeply submerged iceberg of military duplicitousness; if he managed to find out what he did, imagine how many more secrets the Pentagon has concealed.
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