Understanding the ecological validity of relying practice as a basis for risk identification

Anderson, Tom and Busby, Jerry and Rouncefield, Mark (2020) Understanding the ecological validity of relying practice as a basis for risk identification. Risk Analysis, 40 (7). pp. 1383-1398. ISSN 0272-4332

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Understanding the reliability of hazardous organizations and their protective systems is central to understanding the risk they produce. Work on "high reliability organization" has done much to illuminate the conditions in which social organization becomes reliable in highly demanding conditions. But risk depends just as much on how relying entities do their relying as it does on the reliability of the entities they rely on. Patterns of relying are often opaque in sociotechnical systems, and processes of relying and being relied on are mutually influencing in complex ways, so the relationship between relying and risk may not be at all obvious. This study was an attempt to study relying as a social practice, in particular analyzing how it had ecological validity in a social organization-how practice was responsive to the conditions in which it took place. This involved observational fieldwork and inductive, qualitative analysis on an offshore oil and gas production platform that was nearing the end of its design life and undergoing refurbishment. The analysis produced four main categories of ecological validity: responsiveness to formal organization, responsiveness to situational contingency, responsiveness to information asymmetry, and responsiveness to sociomateriality. This ecological validity of relying practice should be a primary focus of risk identification, assessing how relying can become mismatched to reliability in certain ways, both when relying practice is responsive to circumstances and when it is not.

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Journal Article
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Risk Analysis
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This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Anderson, T., Busby, J.S. and Rouncefield, M. (2020), Understanding the Ecological Validity of Relying Practice as a Basis for Risk Identification. Risk Analysis. doi:10.1111/risa.13475 which has been published in final form at https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/risa.13475 This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance With Wiley Terms and Conditions for self-archiving.
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30 Mar 2020 14:40
Last Modified:
18 Sep 2023 01:45