Cover of High Reliability Management by Emery Roe and Paul R. Schulman
High Reliability Management
Emery Roe and Paul R. Schulman

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2008
272 pages.
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Cloth ISBN: 9780804758826
Paper ISBN: 9780804759465

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"Reliability" has become a watchword in the business community. Increasingly, it refers to anticipation and resilience organizations' ability to plan for, absorb, and rebound from shocks. Across many sectors and cases, the approach to improving reliability in primary technical systems has been remarkably similar. Stakeholders assume that improved reliability lies in better design and technology.

This book speaks to the severe limits of formal design and technology relative to operational skills, experience, and knowledge. The debate over the vulnerability of critical infrastructures has far too often neglected the managerial dimension of public security and business continuity. High Reliability Management is the first book about the people who manage for high reliability, namely, those professionals who provide critical services continuously and safely, even during peak demand times or periods of stress.

The text draws on one of the most intensive studies of a critical infrastructure within a high reliability framework. This longitudinal analysis examines the California electrical gridone of the largest, most complex, and economically important in the world. From this research comes a new perspective on strategic balances in society, and practical advice to researchers and professionals who confront reliability daily.

Visit highreligabilitymanagement.org.

About the author

Emery Roe lectures in the Public Affairs and Administration Program at California State University, East Bay. Paul R. Schulman is Professor of Government at Mills College in Oakland, CA.

"Schulman and Roe understand how large-scale organizations successfully deal with modern threats. In High Reliability Management, these recognized experts and creative thinkers dissect the strategies and practices of CAISO—an organization operating in one of the most complex and quickly evolving environments imaginable. Their accessible writing brings the reader into the control rooms and explains how operators perform reliably under immense pressure. This book pushes the boundaries of High Reliability Theory and takes its position as an instant classic in the field."

—Arjen Boin, Leiden University

"Paul Schulman and Emery Roe take us behind the scenes of high reliability managing in a complex network and find that the previously unarticulated role of 'reliability professionals' can make or break high reliability organizations. This well-grounded discovery is of utmost importance since it increases the paths by which higher reliability can be produced. Every manager who tries valiantly to 'keep up' with dynamic input, and every academic who puzzles over the mystery of how 'keeping up' is accomplished, will love this book! This is a story of volatility and options to handle it, a story that could not be more timely."

—Karl E. Weick, Co-author of Managing the Unexpected, Second Edition

"Based on remarkable, sustained access to the institution that manages one of the county's most significant operating networks and critical infrastructures, Roe and Schulman contribute important, new insights into the dynamics and dilemmas of reliable organizational performance. The study calls out the crucial nature of reliability professionals in assuring steady performance under widely varying and often surprising conditions. It is an alert to decision makers and a cautionary tale for planners and regulators, as the US continues to struggle with the challenges of infrastructures at risk. One of a kind, this book is a must read for those who seek to design, manage, and understand large technical systems that confront markets everywhere."

—Todd R. La Porte, Professor of Political Science, University of California, Berkeley

"The book is a valuable case study, the most intensive to date, of a large electricity grid and has a conceptualization of operational phrases that can be used on other systems."

—Charles Perrow, Yale University