Respect for experience

Respect for experience and organisational ability to operate in complex and safety critical environments

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Craig Mauelshagen, David Denyer, Martin Carter, Simon Pollard, Journal of Risk Research, 2012

The role of experience has been shown to be critical for risk management. Yet, few studies have conceptualised and explained the organisational processes that determine how experience informs risk management.

We present a case study examining how experience informs the risk-based decisions of employees in a safety critical industry. Data were gathered through 28 semi-structured interviews in a power utility. Experience contributed significantly to risk-based decisions, particularly those involving complex or dynamic risks, across all functional and hierarchical divisions. Further, collective experience between organisational divisions and a widespread respect for experience promoted the sharing of experiential knowledge. This deepened the extent to which experience was incorporated into risk-based decisions and facilitated coordination between operational and strategic risk management. Respect for experience and collective experience are important contributors to organisational ability for adaptive and coordinated behaviour in complex and high risk environments. LINK

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