Minding the Machines

Minding the Machines : Preventing Technological Disasters

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Technological disasters can impact every area of a corporation's infrastructure, not to mention its reputation and bottom line. This book explores today's best strategies -- organizational, professional, political and legal -- for reducing the incidence of technological catastrophe and mitigating its vast human cost. Technological breakthroughs have revolutionized our lives, but some of them have also led to catastrophe. In this book, two leading experts in technological risk assessment and mitigation analyze nearly three dozen disasters -- from Chernobyl to Challenger, the Bhopal gas leak to the Exxon Valdez oil spill. They present lessons learned and preventive strategies for all four leading causes of disaster: technical design, human factors, organizational system factors, and socio-cultural factors. They also identify appropriate preventive roles for every participant in technological systems, from corporations to individual citizens. For everyone concerned with the risks of technological disaster: educated laypeople, corporate executives, R&D professionals, practicing engineers and scientists, regulators, lawyers, policymakers, and many others.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 512 pages
  • 159 x 234.7 x 29.7mm | 771.12g
  • Pearson Education Limited
  • Prentice-Hall
  • Harlow, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0130656461
  • 9780130656469

About William Evan

WILLIAM M. EVAN is Professor Emeritus of Sociology and Management at the University of Pennsylvania. He has taught at The Wharton School, MIT's Sloan Management School, the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business, and Columbia University's Graduate School of Business and has served as research sociologist for Bell Laboratories. The author of over 100 articles for various professional journals, Evan's books include Organization Theory: Research and Design, Knowledge and Power in a Global Society, Preventing World War III, and Nuclear Proliferation and the Legality of Nuclear Weapons. He currently consults with major corporations and government agencies on issues including organizational design and crisis management. MARK MANION is an Assistant Professor in the College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Engineering at Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA and directs Drexel's philosophy program. His interests include the ethics and politics of risk assessment, the social effects of technology, engineering ethics, the philosophy of technology, and crisis management. His publications have appeared in the International Journal of Technology Management, International Journal of Risk Assessment and Management, Technology in Society, Computers and Society, The Journal of Information Ethics, and many other leading professional journals.show more

Table of contents

(NOTE: Each chapter contains a Conclusion and References.) List of Tables. List of Figures. Preface. Invitation to Our Readers. Acknowledgments. I. INTRODUCTION. 1. Technological Disasters: An Overview. Dangerous Technologies. Selected Examples of Technological Disasters. Causes of Technological Disasters. Strategies for Prevention. Who Should be Concerned. 2. Natural and Human-Made Disasters. Natural Disasters. Human-Made Disasters. Comparison of Natural and Human-Made Disasters. Endnotes. II. THE PREVALENCE OF TECHNOLOGICAL DISASTERS. 3. The Year 2000 (Y2K) Debacle: An Ironic Failure of Information Technology. The Overall Impact of Y2K. Anticipation of the Problem. The Causes of the Problem. The Scope of Y2K. The Cost of Y2K. 4. Theories of Technological Disasters. A Systems Approach to Technological Disasters. Feedback Mechanisms and the Design of Engineering Systems. Perrow's Theory of "Normal Accidents" (NAT). High Reliability Theory (HRT). A Sociotechnical Systems Analysis of Technological Disasters. 5. The Root Causes of Technological Disasters. Technical Design Factors. Human Factors. Organizational Systems Factors. Socio-Cultural Factors. Terrorism in the Nuclear-Information Age. Terrorism and Counter-Terrorism. Organizational Systems Factor Counter-Measurers. III. TECHNOLOGICAL DISASTERS SINCE THE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION. 6. Three Industrial Revolutions and Beyond. Three Technological Revolutions. The First Industrial Revolution. The Second Industrial Revolution. The Third Industrial Revolution. A Fourth Industrial Revolution? 7. A Matrix of Technological Disasters. Testing Three Hypotheses about the History of Technological Disasters. IV. ANALYSIS OF CASE STUDIES OF TECHNOLOGICAL DISASTERS. 8. Twelve Exemplary Case Studies of Technological Disasters. USS Princeton Explosion. Titanic Sinking. Aisgill Train Wreck. Johnstown Flood. DC-10 Crash. Tenerife Runway Collision. Santa Barbara Oil Spill. Love Canal Toxic Waste Contamination. Apollo I Fire. Three Mile Island. Challenger Disaster. Bhopal Poison Gas Release. 9. Lessons Learned From the Case Studies of Technological Disasters. Specific Lessons Learned. General Lessons Learned. V. STRATEGIC RESPONSES TO TECHNOLOGICAL DISASTERS. 10. The Responsibilities of Engineers and Scientists. The Role of Engineering Schools. The Role of Engineering Societies. The Role of Science and Scientists. 11. The Role of Corporations in the Management of Technological Disasters. Corporate Management versus Mismanagement. Case Studies in Crisis Management. Crisis Management Theory. Endnotes. 12. The Role of the Legal System in Technology Policy Decisions. The Executive Branch. The Legislative Branch. The Administrative Branch. The Judicial Branch. The Legal Profession. Relative Effectiveness of U.S. Legal Subsystems in Technology Policy Decisions. 13. Assessing the Risks of Technology. Probabilistic Risk Assessment. Risk-Cost Benefit Analysis. Technology Assessment. 14. Technology Decisions and the Democratic Process. Technocratic versus Democratic Assessments of Risk. Participatory Technology. Mechanism for Citizen Participation. Toward an Alliance of Citizen's Organizations. Name Index. Subject Index. List of Tables.show more

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