Organisational failure and public policy disasters

The course's main goal is to instruct students in making in-depth inquiries into complex cases of ill-fated policies and organisations based on causal process tracing and a chosen theoretical framework.

This is done through the analysis of organisational failure and public policy disasters from a variety of perspectives in an attempt to enable students to assess the risks of failure and to contribute to appropriate risk avoidance strategies. The Empirical Cases to be analysed fall into three different categories


  • (I) Socio-technical Systems (the Three Mile Island Nuclear Plant Disaster of 1979 and the Fukushima Accident of 2011, the Space Shuttle Challenger Accident of 1986, the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill of 2010)
  • (II) International Organization and Security Agencies (the collapse of the UN Mission and the subsequent genocide in Rwanda in 1994, the inability of the international community to protect the UN “Safe Area” Srebrenica during the Bosnian War in 1995, the failure of US security services prior to 9/11 to analyse the terrorist threat and to prevent the attack of September 11, 2001
  • (III) Civil Administration (the endemic practice of child abuse in the church related institutions in Ireland and the inability and/or unwillingness of church and state administration to take appropriate counter-measures, the Loveparade disaster in the city of Duisburg, Germany, of July 24, 2010, the serial killing of immigrants and the failure of German security agencies since the late 1990s).