Type: Article
Title: Coping with a Self-Induced Shock: The Heterarchic Organization of the London Olympic Games 2012
Authors: Grabher, Gernot 
Thiel, Joachim 
Issue Date: 11-Sep-2014
Keywords: adaptability; heterarchy; project organizations; Olympic Games; London; high reliability; mega-events; urban development
This paper starts from the assumption of a structural analogy between mega-events and large-scale disasters. Both imply forceful interruptions of everyday routines, and both involve imperatives for imminent action. Similar to the immovable deadline of an opening ceremony, a looming natural disaster triggers a complex set of precautions and preparations to cope with the inescapable forthcoming shock. In the case of mega-events, of course, this shock is self-induced. In fact, cities fiercely compete to host mega-events. In the face of the daunting challenges of hosting a mega-event—the immovable timeframe, the rigorous standards set by regulatory bodies, and the exceptional public visibility—the authorities and organizations in charge traditionally have resorted to strategies of a strict adaptation to the conditions imposed on them. Aligning all available resources and capabilities to match the foreseeable demands, however, undermines the adaptability to cope with unpredictable perturbations. This paper seeks to explore the strategies and practices to attain adaptability during the preparation, staging and implementation of legacy plans of a mega-event with an evidentially noteworthy record: the London Olympic Games 2012. The paper seeks to demonstrate that the project ecology in charge managed to enhance adaptability by implementing three key features of heterarchy: ambiguity, redundancy and loose coupling. By leveraging the principles of heterarchy, the project ecology was able to draw lessons from previous mega-events and both to anticipate and respond to unforeseen challenges.
Subject Class (DDC): 710: Landschaftsgestaltung, Raumplanung
HCU-Faculty: Stadt- und Regionalökonomie 
Journal or Series Name: Social Sciences 
Volume: 3
Issue: 3
Start page: 527
End page: 548
Publisher: MDPI
ISSN: 2076-0760
Publisher DOI: 10.3390/socsci3030527
URN (Citation Link): urn:nbn:de:gbv:1373-repos-8457
Directlink: https://repos.hcu-hamburg.de/handle/hcu/653
Language: English
Related research data and publications: https://repos.hcu-hamburg.de/handle/hcu/652
Creative Commons License: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/de/
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