Busby, J S and Bennett, S A (2008) Analysing the risks of individual and collective intentionality. Journal of Risk Research, 11 (6). pp. 797-819.
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The risk assessment of complex systems often seems to neglect the way in which intentions, collective and individual, are central to our explanations of how risk arises in such systems. Contradictions among the intentions of different actors, for example, are typically an important part of our understanding of how organizations break down. Moreover, risk assessment practice pays little attention to the reflexive problem of how intentions for the risk assessment itself can themselves become problematic. This study was an attempt to develop a framework to support reasoning about intentionality, both individual and collective, during risk assessment. The framework broadly follows a process of 1) identifying the main social objects in a system, 2) asking what are the collective intentions for these objects in terms of the functions that are conferred on them, 3) asking what obligations and powers these create, and 4) asking what risks of organizational dysfunction can then arise. The approach was applied in a case study of aviation ramp operations. Its main value is as a formative rather than a summative kind of analysis.
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