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Resolving identities: Successive crises in a trading room after 9/11
Beunza Ibáñez, Daniel; Stark, David
Universitat Pompeu Fabra. Departament d'Economia i Empresa
How do organizations cope with extreme uncertainty? The existing literatureis divided on this issue: some argue that organizations deal best withuncertainty in the environment by reproducing it in the organization, whereasothers contend that the orga nization should be protected from theenvironment. In this paper we study the case of a Wall Street investment bankthat lost its entire office and trading technology in the terrorist attack ofSeptember 11 th. The traders survived, but were forced to relocate to amakeshift trading room in New Jersey. During the six months the traders spentoutside New York City, they had to deal with fears and insecurities insidethe company as well as outside it: anxiety about additional attacks,questions of professional identity, doubts about the future of the firm, andambiguities about the future re-location of the trading room. The firmovercame these uncertainties by protecting the traders identities and theirability to engage in sensemaking. The organization held together through aleadership style that managed ambiguities and created the conditions for newsolutions to emerge.
Management and Organization Studies
organizational responsiveness
september 11th
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Working Paper

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