Collapsing Structures and Public Mismanagement

In his open access book "Collapsing Structures and Public Mismanagement", Wolfgang Seibel analyzes the failure of administrative authorities to protect the physical safety of people and asks what we can learn from past events.
© Dreisatz

The West Gate Bridge in Melbourne, the I-35W Mississippi River Bridge in Minneapolis, the Canterbury Television Building in Christchurch, the ice skating rink in Bad Reichenhall: all of these structures collapsed due to administrative failures, and lives were lost as a result. Wolfgang Seibel, a Konstanz-based politics and public administration scholar says that when public administration acts in ways that come at a cost to people's safety, this behaviour is rooted in the pathologies of bureaucratic organizations. These pathologies, however, are well-known and, in principle, manageable. Seibel's freely accessible book is part of the project "Black Swans in Public Administration: Rare Organizational Failure with Severe Consequences" and focuses on four cases of collapsed buildings in which control mechanisms failed.

Reports from commissions of inquiry as well as court files provided the empirical basis for the analyses. Wolfgang Seibel identified typical mechanisms that lead civil servants, architects and engineers to neglect their professional standards and/or regulations. He also answers the question of what general conclusions we can draw from such case studies in order to develop corresponding preventive measures.

The open access book "Collapsing Structures and Public Mismanagement" (doi: 10.1007/978-3-030-67818-0) can be downloaded for free from the University of Konstanz's KOPS document server.

Maria Schorpp

By Maria Schorpp - 13.11.2023