Chapter 1: Organizations in World Risk Society
Ulrich Beck & Boris Holzer
Organizations in world risk society Today's critical debate over—and, sometimes, severe doubts about—risk-management practices ironically follow in the wake of massive endeavors to control and rein in the risks associated with industrialization. Accidents and unforeseen side effects time and again belied the promises of risk management and damage control. The hidden risks of risk models lie under the surface of controllability. Because modern risk management is often designed to maximize predictability, it frequently underestimates the occurrence of unexpected and unlikely—yet nonetheless possible—events, in terms of both the frequency and the severity of hazards. This unfortunate combination is due to the “uncertainty trap” in which many industries are caught: Industries have to be reasonably optimistic so as to base their decisions on rational, probabilistic criteria. Thus they have to look at the most—sometimes maybe the worst— probable risk, but not at the worst possible risk. The latter perspective, however, characterizes In ...