Many participants and observers have analyzed the 1996 Mount Everest tragedy and blamed a host of factors including the weather, equipment failures, and human error. This article examines the people and events through three theoretical lenses: behavioral decision theory, group dynamics, and complex systems. Factors at each level—individual, group, and organizational system—interacted with one another to cause the tragedy. This analysis provides a framework for understanding and diagnosing largescale organizational failures, and it provides several important lessons for managers making and implementing high-stakes decisions within organizations.
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