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Drop Your Tools: An Allegory for Organizational Studies

Karl E. Weick
Administrative Science Quarterly
Vol. 41, No. 2, 40th Anniversary Issue (Jun., 1996), pp. 301-313
DOI: 10.2307/2393722
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2393722
Page Count: 13
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Drop Your Tools: An Allegory for Organizational Studies
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Abstract

The failure of 27 wildland firefighters to follow orders to drop their heavy tools so they could move faster and outrun an exploding fire led to their death within sight of safe areas. Possible explanations for this puzzling behavior are developed using guidelines proposed by James D. Thompson, the first editor of the Administrative Science Quarterly. These explanations are then used to show that scholars of organizations are in analogous threatened positions, and they too seem to be keeping their heavy tools and falling behind. ASQ's 40th anniversary provides a pretext to reexamine this potentially dysfunctional tendency and to modify it by reaffirming an updated version of Thompson's original guidelines.

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