To solve a problem, one must first recognize and understand what is causing the problem. According to Wilson et al. (1993), a root cause is the most basic reason for an undesirable condition or problem. If the real cause of the problem is not identified, then one is merely addressing the symptoms and the problem will continue to exist. For this reason, identifying and eliminating root causes of problems is of utmost importance (Dew, 1991; Sproull, 2001). Root cause analysis is the process of identifying causal factors using a structured approach with techniques designed to provide a focus for identifying and resolving problems. Tools that assist groups and individuals in identifying the root causes of problems are known as root cause analysis tools.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/mark_doggett/5/