Faculty Bookshelf

Acceptable Risk? Making Decisions in a Toxic Environment

  • Book Image
  • Author(s): Lee Clarke
  • Publisher: Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press
  • Year Published: 1989, 1991 (paperback)

This is a detailed study of organizations and publics interacting in a very uncertain environment, trying to solve some perplexing social and technical problems. The general process developed thus: The State Office Building accident drew together more than a score of actors—including legislative bodies, health agencies, unions, government executives, hospitals, the media, private firms, universities, and a grass-roots association—to form a crowd of organizations. This early phase after the accident was characterized by pervasive ambiguities as the actors struggled to define both the problem and their response. Over time, the organizational crowd configured itself so that three agencies were left with the responsibility for the exposed people and the polluted building. As this structuring process proceeded, policies that were designed to solve those puzzles underwent radical change.