Organizing at and beyond the limits

  • Farjoun M
  • Starbuck W
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Surprises occur when organizations try to exceed the limits of their capabilities. The surprises include both serious accidents and remarkable discoveries. The idea that organizations have limits sheds light on a systemic source of organizational accidents and an important and increasingly prevalent aspect of organizational life. This article discusses various organizational limits and why they exist, it reviews factors that lead organizations to exceed their limits either intentionally or inadvertently, and it points out several reasons why limit violations may be growing more prevalent. Although some organizational limits arise from fundamental characteristics of people or technological systems, nearly all organizational limits result from rather arbitrary decisions about capacities, systems, and structures. In particular, limit violations often stem from uncertain and unintentional exploration. After examining potential consequences and symptoms of limit violation, the article proposes several reasons why researchers should add limits to their agendas for future research. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]

Author-supplied keywords

  • Accidents
  • Capabilities
  • Cognition
  • Innovation

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  • Moshe Farjoun

  • William H. Starbuck

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