In keeping with traditional sociological concerns about order and disorder, this essay addresses the dark side of organizations. To build a theoretical basis for the dark side as an integrated field of study, I review four literatures in order to make core ideas of each available to specialists in the others. Using a Simmelian-based case comparison method of analogical theorizing, I first consider sociological constructs that identify both the generic social form and the generic origin of routine nonconformity: how things go wrong in socially organized settings. Then I examine three types of routine nonconformity with adverse outcomes that harm the public: mistake, misconduct, and disaster produced in and by organizations. Searching for analogies and differences, I find that in common, routine nonconformity, mistake, misconduct, and disaster are systematically produced by the interconnection between environment, organizations, cognition, and choice. These patterns amplify what is known about social structure and have implications for theory, research, and policy.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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