Political Science Faculty Publications and Presentations
Katrina, Rita, Challenger and Columbia: Operationalizing a Knowledge Analytic in NASA and DHS Crises
The knowledge analytic is based on the reality of organizations that are clearly defined by the people who inhabit them: executives, managers, and workers. Each level of the organization possesses people who have a way of knowing how to do their work. Problems in organizations arise when there is conflict, or incompatibility, of knowledges (plural). Hummel (2006) submits that those at the higher echelons of the organization, the executives, use numbers as power over subordinates. Problems are accentuated with the problem of “forced commensurability” where numbers become more real to the organization than the actual work experienced by the employees (61-2). The higher the level occupied, the more abstract is “the work.” Executives know their jobs in terms of mathematics, i.e., quantities, numbers, deadlines, budgets, and defining their work as such down the scalar chain of the organizational pyramid. Managers take the numbers and attempt to translate them into a usable form to dictate to workers what needs to be done using scientific management techniques. Workers know their work in terms of craftsmanship and first-hand experience that does not always translate into arithmetic form in turn usable for managers and executives (Hummel 2006; Garrett 2004).
Garrett, Terence. “Katrina, Rita, Challenger and Columbia: Operationalizing a Knowledge Analytic in NASA and DHS Crises.” Public Voices, vol. 10, no. 1, 2007, pp. 23–35.
Original published version available here.