The complexity of modern organizations has heightened the necessity that
they perform at a high level of reliability, especially when the costs of
failure are quite high (e.g., submarines, nuclear power plants, traffic
control systems, etc.) Perrow (1984) notes that characteristic of these
systems include high complexity, tight coupling (little slack between activities),
and non-linear interactivity (especially following unexpected sequences
f events that are not immediately visible or understandable). Some of the
factors promoting high reliability are "selection and training of personnel,
redundancy of functions, reliance on colleagiality and negotiation within
a tight formal command structure, and a culture emphasizing cooperation
and committment to high standards" (Scott p. 351).
However, Perrow (1984) argues that in really complex systems they are bound
to fail, producing "normal" accidents -- these systems should
be abandoned as hopeless.