Epidemic Communicator (2011)

Dr. Gordon Müller-Seitz / Prof. Dr. Carsten Reuter / Dr. Christoph Stöckmann / Dr. Wotan Wilden

The objective of this Peter Pribilla Fellowship project is to elucidate how service innovations in the face of uncertainty, with regard to food borne disease outbreaks, emerge. This context is deemed adequate due to its high societal, and managerial relevance, as recent serious human infections in the course of enter haemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) have highlighted an unexpected vulnerability in the German health care sector this year.


What is more, we aim at getting a more thorough understanding of how actors, in particular organizations, actually face uncertainty. Thus, we make service innovations and managerial practice efforts visible, ensuing from dealing with uncertainty resulting from large scale disease outbreaks. Uncertainty – understood here as the unexpected and non-calculable – by contrast to calculable risks has been only rarely researched to date despite its societal relevance, and omnipresence. Thus, it is not surprising that recently there have been increasing calls to devote more attention to this theme. For instance, the recent global financial crisis has revealed the shortcomings of sophisticated mathematical models. In a similar vein, notions of risk fail short to offer answers to related incidents imbued with uncertainty like the terrorist attacks of 9/11, tsunamis or the volcanic ash clouds of the Icelandic volcano.


The way that (inter)organizational actors actually deal with uncertainty before, during and after such phenomena, has been researched within disciplinary silos, mostly in an isolated manner, and sticking to risk conceptions.

Watch the presentation about this project on Slideshare