Action Errors, Error Management, and Learning in Organizations

Research output: Journal contributionsJournal articlesResearchpeer-review


Every organization is confronted with errors. Most errors are corrected easily, but some may lead to negative consequences. Organizations often focus on error prevention as a single strategy for dealing with errors. Our review suggests that error prevention needs to be supplemented by error management-an approach directed at effectively dealing with errors after they have occurred, with the goal of minimizing negative and maximizing positive error consequences (examples of the latter are learning and innovations). After defining errors and related concepts, we review research on error-related processes affected by error management (error detection, damage control). Empirical evidence on positive effects of error management in individuals and organizations is then discussed, along with emotional, motivational, cognitive, and behavioral pathways of these effects. Learning from errors is central, but like other positive consequences, learning occurs under certain circumstances-one being the development of a mind-set of acceptance of human error.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAnnual Review of Psychology
Pages (from-to)661-687
Number of pages27
Publication statusPublished - 01.01.2015