Learning from Catastrophes: Strategies for Reaction and Response

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Pearson Prentice Hall, Nov 16, 2009 - Business & Economics - 352 pages

Events ranging from Hurricane Katrina to the global economic crisis have taught businesspeople an unforgettable lesson: if you don’t plan for “extreme risk,” you endanger your organization’s very survival. But how can you plan for events that go far beyond anything that occurs in normal day-to-day business? In Learning from Catastrophes, two renowned experts present the first comprehensive strategic framework for assessing, responding to, and managing extreme risk. Howard Kunreuther and Michael Useem build on their own breakthrough work on mitigating natural disasters, extending it to the challenges faced by real-world enterprises.

Along with the contributions of leading experts in risk management, heuristics, and disaster recovery, they identify the behavioral biases and faulty heuristics that mislead decision makers about the likelihood of catastrophe. They go on to identify the hidden links associated with extreme risks, and present techniques for systematically building greater resilience into the organization. The global best-seller The Black Swan told executives that “once in a lifetime” events are far more common and dangerous than they ever realized. Learning from Catastropheshows them exactly what to do about it.


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About the Authors
World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on the Mitigation of Natural Disasters

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About the author (2009)

Howard Kunreuther is the Cecilia Yen Koo Professor of Decision Sciences and Public Policy at the Wharton School, and Co-Director of the Wharton Risk Management and Decision Processes Center. He has a longstanding interest in ways that society can better manage low-probability, high-consequence events related to technological and natural hazards. He is a member of the OECD’s High Level Advisory Board on Financial Management of Large-Scale Catastrophes, a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and distinguished fellow of the Society for Risk Analysis, receiving the Society’s Distinguished Achievement Award in 2001. He is the recipient of the Elizur Wright Award for the publication that makes the most significant contribution to the literature of insurance.

Michael Useem is William and Jacalyn Egan Professor of Management and Director of the Center for Leadership and Change Management at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. He is author of numerous books, including The Go Point, The Leadership Moment, and Investor Capitalism. He has presented programs and seminars on leadership and governance with corporations, government agencies, and non-profit organizations worldwide and has consulted on organizational development and change with the U.S. Agency for International Development, U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, and companies and other organizations in Latin America, Asia, and Africa.

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