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Learning from Catastrophes

Strategies for Reaction and Response

Howard Kunreuther and Michael Useem

Foreword by Klaus Schwab

Events ranging from Hurricane Katrina to the global economic crisis have taught businesspeople an unforgettable lesson: if you don’t plan for “extreme risk,” you endanger your organization’s very survival.

But how can you plan for events that go far beyond anything that occurs in normal day-to-day business? In Learning from Catastrophes, two renowned experts present the first comprehensive strategic framework for assessing, responding to, and managing extreme risk. Howard Kunreuther and Michael Useem build on their own breakthrough work on mitigating natural disasters, extending it to the challenges faced by real-world enterprises.

Along with the contributions of leading experts in risk management, heuristics, and disaster recovery, they identify the behavioral biases and faulty heuristics that mislead decision makers about the likelihood of catastrophe. They go on to identify the hidden links associated with extreme risks, and present techniques for systematically building greater resilience into the organization. The global best-seller The Black Swan told executives that “once in a lifetime” events are far more common and dangerous than they ever realized. Learning from Catastrophes shows them exactly what to do about it.

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About the Authors

Howard Kunreuther

Howard C. Kunreuther is the James G. Dinan Professor, Professor of Decision Sciences and Business and Public Policy at the Wharton School, and co-director of the Wharton Risk Management and Decision Processes Center at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. His recent books include Mastering Catastrophic Risk (with Michael Useem), The Ostrich Paradox: Why We Underprepare for Disasters (with Robert Meyer), At War with the Weather (with Erwann Michel-Kerjan), winner of the Kulp-Wright Book Award from th ... More

Michael Useem

Michael Useem is the William and Jacalyn Egan Professor of Management; Director, Center for Leadership and Change Management, and the Editor, Wharton Leadership Digest at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. His university teaching includes MBA and executive MBA courses on management and leadership, and he offers programs on leadership and governance for managers in the United States, Asia, Europe, and Latin America. His earlier books include The Inner Circle, Executive Defense, Investor Capitalism, a ... More

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