Welcome to the RSB Lab’s new interdisciplinary seminar series

Thursday 8 October 2020

The Responsible and Sustainable Business Lab (Nottingham Business School) and the Work Futures Research Group (School of Social Sciences, NTU) are collaboratively launching a new interdisciplinary seminar series, which we call the Subversive Seminar Series. The seminars will focus on provocative and polemical ideas/works, aimed at challenging contemporary orthodoxies in various fields. It will also allow us to listen and learn from our colleagues working in different disciplines or departments. Our first guest is Professor André Spicer from City, University of London – Business School (formerly CASS).  He will be talking on Clusterf***s: A Theory (30 min talk & 30 min Q&A, & Discussion). You can find the abstract of his presentation below.

We hope you can join us on 8th  October, 13.00-14.00 (BST)


In 2019, one of the most popular and talked about documentaries across the world was ‘Fyre: The greatest party which never happened’. In it the film makers followed an entrepreneur with too much confidence and too little ethics as he tried to stage the greatest party even on a Caribbean island. After what seems like a spectacular start, events spirals out of control and end disastrously. One reason the documentary provide so popular was that it reflected many other shambolic situations in business, government organisations. Looked back on now, only one year later, Fyre seemed to be advanced warning in what would and would go wrong as organisations throughout the world tried to respond to the COVID 19. In this presentation, I will explore the kind of shambolic situation we see in Fyre. To try to understand what is going on I begin with some existing work on the topic such as analyses of wicked problems, risk society, policy failures and organised blundering. Building on this work, I follow Sutton and Rao who have labelled them clusterf***s. These are interconnected foreseeable mistakes which are often unacknowledged by decision-makers and then spiral out of control to create catastrophic consequences. I argued the clusterfucks often occur when there is a toxic mixture of incompetence, impatience, illusion, inattentiveness, imperviousness and irresponsibility. When these factors come together it can trigger the creation of clusterf***. Typically this process begins with multiple routine cock-ups which are overlooked and come together to create chaos. When this chaos is not properly address and tamed it can often have catastrophic consequences. Such catastrophes leave large scale void which gives groups the opportunity to reconstruct an organisation in their own preferred way. Clusterf***s also create many clean-up operations. These include paying lip-service, scape-goating, culture change, restructuring and initiative mongering. In note that these kinds of clean-up operations often do not address root-causes and can actually make matters worse. I will end the presentation by considering some ways which clusterfucks can be deal with in a more meaningful and effective way.

Zoom: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82109207960?pwd=YjR1UlRacnJPYW9wV1R5a3RKU0FmUT09

Meeting ID: 821 0920 7960

Passcode: 917265

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