Busby, J S and Zhang, H (2008) The pathogen construct in risk analysis. International Journal of Project Management, 39 (3). pp. 86-96.
Project risk analysis has traditionally emphasized the analysis of external threats. Here we argue that internal decisions and structures are more fundamental, because they determine which external events pose risks to project management. A “pathogen” metaphor is used to understand these internal sources of risk, in an analysis of failure in two sets of projects that lie on the border between the private and public sectors. This analysis goes beyond earlier work on organizational pathogens by treating them as subjective interpretations, not objective conditions. The study suggests that the more insidious risks to which a project is exposed involve different project members holding contradictory beliefs about what is pathogenic and what is protective.
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