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Dynamics of failure

In business endeavors, as in human efforts in general, things seldom turn out the way they first were intended. Sometimes things simply go wrong. This is true for large-scale strategic projects as well as for ordinary day-to-day activities.

Organized life is full of failures. We tend to explain failures by simply saying people have done a poor job, they lack strategic knowledge, they make naive decisions or they are merely being megalomanic in their decisions. Defending ourselves, we often suggest bad luck, unfortunate timing, the inability of others or dysfunctions in our organizations as alternative explanations.

Still, it is commonly assumed that the origin of business development - in terms of scope as well as organization - is the human capacity of coming up with great ideas and progressive visions. This assumption is reflected explicitly, and in particular, in theories on leadership and entrepreneurial effort.

Surely ideas come and go. Sometimes ideas make contemporary fashion out of things that had long been forgotten. Sometimes they put the hype of today in the closet among other hopeless things and behaviors of yesterday. When ideas receive support and generate efforts, they may become part of our reality: as projects, things, services, habits or ways of thinking about and perceiving the world. Without encouragement and human effort, ideas slowly fade away. The organizations, products and services surrounding us represent visions that have evolved and survived, at least temporarily. The social selection of what is considered to be a great idea is certainly a hazardous game. Business ideas and practices that "failed" is the primary focus of this experimental research project. Who killed them, how and why? Or did they somehow manage to escape, leaving our contemporary mindset, just waiting for a time and a place in which they can reappear?

In this project, industrial failures are put into a variety of contexts. Of particular interest is the appearance and transformation of ideas in social space and time and the implications for business efforts that can be traced to people's opinions in terms of successes and failures.  


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In the Press

Strannegård, L. (2005) Coca-Cola och nederlagets sötma. Management Magazine. (2): pp. 45.

Strannegård, L. (2005) Det ständiga misslyckandet - om nederlagen i näringslivet. Management Magazine. (2): pp. 42-46.

Strannegård, L. (2005) Ett svenskt terminalfiasko. Management Magazine. (2): pp. 46

Strannegård, L. (2004) Minns Itera! Dagens Handel, 4: pp. 1, March 4.

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