Karl E. Weick
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Karl Edward Weick (born October 31, 1936 in Warsaw, Indiana) is an American organizational theorist who is noted for introducing the notions of "loose coupling", "mindfulness", and "sensemaking" into organizational studies. He is the Rensis Likert Distinguished University Professor at the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan. He earned his bachelor's degree at Wittenberg College in Springfield, Ohio and his Ph.D. in organizational psychology from Ohio State University in 1962.
Key contributions 
Karl Weick uses this term to denote the idea that certain phenomena (such as organizations) are created by being talked about.
"Managers construct, rearrange, single out, and demolish many 'objective' features of their surroundings. When people act they unrandomize variables, insert vestiges of orderliness, and literally create their own constraints." [Social Psychology of Organizing, p243]
Loose coupling 
Karl Weick's major contribution to the topic of loose coupling in an organizational context comes from his 1976 paper on "Educational Organizations as Loosely Coupled Systems"(published in the Administrative Science Quarterly), revisited in his review of subsequent uses of the concept, with JD Orton, in 1990's Loosely Coupled Systems: A Reconceptualization.
Loose coupling in Weick's sense is a term intended to capture the necessary degree of flex between an organization's internal abstraction of reality, its theory of the world, on the one hand, and the concrete material actuality within which it finally acts, on the other. A loose coupling is what makes it possible for these ontologically incompatible entities to exist and act on each other, without shattering (akin to Castoriadis's idea of 'articulation'). Orton and Weick argue in favour of uses of the term which consciously preserve the dialectic it captures between the subjective and the objective, and against uses of the term which 'resolve' the dialectic by folding it into one side or the other.
People try to make sense of organizations, and organizations themselves try to make sense of their environment. Weick pays attention to questions of ambiguity and uncertainty in this sense-making, which is known as equivocality in organizational research that adopts information processing theory. His contributions to the theory of sensemaking include research papers such as his detailed analysis of the breakdown of sensemaking in the case of the Mann Gulch disaster, in which he defines the notion of a 'cosmology episode' - a challenge to assumptions that causes participants to question their own capacity to act.
Karl Weick introduced the term mindfulness into the organizational and safety literatures in the article Organizing for high reliability: Processes of collective mindfulness (1999). Weick develops the term “mindfulness” from Langer's (1989) work, who uses it to describe individual cognition. Weick's innovation was transferring this concept into the organizational literature as “collective mindfulness.” The effective adoption of collective mindfulness characteristics by an organization appears to cultivate safer cultures that exhibit improved system outcomes. The term high reliability organization (HRO) is an emergent property described by Weick (and Karlene Roberts at UC-Berkeley). Highly mindful organizations characteristically exhibit: a) Preoccupation with failure, b) Reluctance to simplify c) Sensitivity to operations, d) Commitment to Resilience, and e) Deference to Expertise.
Karl Weick explained that mindfulness is when we realize our current expectations, continuously improve those expectations based on new experiences, and implement those expectations to improve the current situation into a better one.
Organizational Information Theory 
Organizational information theory builds upon general systems theory, and focuses on the complexity of information management within an organization. The theory addresses how organizations reduce equivocally, or uncertainty through a process of information collection, management and use.
In several published articles, Weick related a story that originally appeared in a poem by Miroslav Holub that was published in the Times Literary Supplement. Weick plagiarized Holub in that he republished the poem (with some minor differences, including removing line breaks and making small changes in a few words) without quotation or attribution. Some of Weick's articles included the material with no reference to Holub; others referred to Holub but without indicating that Weick had essentially done a direct copy of Holub's writing. The plagiarism was detailed in an article by Thomas Basbøll and Henrik Graham. In a response, Weick disputed the claim of plagiarism, writing, "By the time I began to see the Alps story as an example of cognition in the path of the action, I had lost the original article containing Holub’s poem and I was not even sure where I had read the story . . . I reconstructed the story as best I could." Weick did not give a plausible explanation of how this reconstruction led to the appearance of a story with wording nearly identical to Holub's. Basbøll and Graham write, "The American Historical Association acknowledges the existence of this common defence in specific cases of plagiarism, tersely remarking that it “is plausible only in the context of a wider tolerance of shoddy work.”
- 1979, The Social Psychology of Organizing, McGraw Hill.
- 1995, Sensemaking in Organizations, Sage.
- 2001, Making Sense of the Organization, Blackwell.
- 2001, Managing the Unexpected: Assuring High Performance in an Age of Complexity. with co-author Kathleen Sutcliffe, Jossey-Bass.
- 1976, "Educational Organizations as Loosely Coupled Systems." Administrative Science Quarterly 21:1-19.
- 1984, with Richard L Daft, "Toward a model of organizations as Interpretation systems". Academy of Management. The Academy of Management Review (pre-1986); 9; pg. 284; Apr 1984.
- 1988, "Enacted Sensemaking in Crisis Situation", in: Journal of Management Studies. 25:4, pp. 305–317, July, 1988.
- 2005, with Kathleen M Sutcliffe and, David Obstfeld, "Organizing and the Process of Sensemaking", in: Organization Science. Vol. 16, nº 4, p. 409-421, Jul/Aug, 2005.
- Miner, John B. (2005), Organizational Behavior 2: Essential Theories of Process and Structure, ISBN 0-7656-1525-8
- Orton JD, Weick K (1990). Loosely Coupled Systems: A Reconceptualization, "The Academy of Management Review, Vol. 15:2, pp203-223, http://www.jstor.org/pss/258154
- Weick, K. (1993). The Collapse of Sensemaking in Organizations: The Mann Gulch Disaster , Administrative Science Quarterly, Vol. 38
- Weick, K. E., & Sutcliffe, K. M. (2001). Managing the unexpected: assuring high performance in an age of complexity. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
- Basbøll, T., and Graham, H. (2006). "Substitutes for Strategy Research: Notes on the source of Karl Weick’s anecdote of the young lieutenant and the map of the Pyrenees", Ephemera, 6(2): 194-204, http://www.ephemeraweb.org/journal/6-2/6-2basboell-graham.pdf
- Weick, K. (2006). "Dear Editor: A Reply to Basbøll and Graham", Ephemera, 6(2): 193, http://www.ephemeraweb.org/journal/6-2/6-2weick.pdf
|This article relies on references to primary sources. (May 2009)|
- Research Statement by Professor Weick
- Leadership When Events Don't Play By the Rules Short essay by Karl Weick
- Karl Weick page at OnePine
- Complicate Yourself interview with Karl Weick in Wired, April 1996
- Information Systems Theory page based on the work of Karl Weick, by some students at Ohio University.
- The Collapse of Sensemaking in Organisations - The Mann-Gulch Disaster