The paper analyzes complexity in organizations facing threatening environments. Such contexts are characterized by very high levels of risk and uncertainty that challenge organizational survival: fire-fighting, aerospace projects, high-tech research programs, etc. A paradox of these contexts is that although they remain stable, organizations operating within them are often transitory, single-project and with a high variety of skills and knowledge. These organizations show a peculiar way of organizing complexity, that deserves special attention. This paper is built upon a longitudinal case study based on successive attempts to climb Mount Everest by Chilean expeditions. After three failed attempts (1984, 1986, 1989) the summit was finally reached in 1992 through one of the hardest routes. Each expedition was an independent organization, and structural arrangements as well as participants were different, except for a small permanent core
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