Organizational errors: Directions for future research

Paul S. Goodman, Rangaraj Ramanujam, John S. Carroll, Amy C. Edmondson, David A. Hofmann, Kathleen M. Sutcliffe

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations


The goal of this chapter is to promote research about organizational errors-i.e., the actions of multiple organizational participants that deviate from organizationally specified rules and can potentially result in adverse organizational outcomes. To that end, we advance the premise that organizational errors merit study in their own right as an organizational-level phenomenon of growing theoretical and managerial significance. We delineate organizational errors as a construct that is distinct from but related to individual-level errors, and draw attention to its multi-level antecedents, mediating processes, and outcomes. We also discuss error management processes such as prevention, resilience, and learning, and call for research to expand our currently limited understanding of how these processes unfold over time, i.e., before, during, and after the occurrence of organizational errors. Further, in the light of a recurring critique of prior error-related organizational studies as being narrowly context-bound and therefore of limited interest to organizational researchers in general, we elaborate on the critical need for future research to explicitly take into account the role of contextual features. We conclude with a discussion of key themes, unresolved issues, and promising research directions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)151-176
Number of pages26
JournalResearch in Organizational Behavior
StatePublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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