Problem Investigation in High-Hazard Industries: Creating and Negotiational Learning
36 Pages Posted: 17 Apr 2002
Date Written: March 2002
High-hazard or high-reliability organizations are ideal for the study of organizational learning processes because of their intense mindfulness regarding problems. We examine 27 problem investigation teams at 3 nuclear power plants whose task was to report to management about causes and corrective actions and thereby contribute to organizational learning and change. Questionnaires were given to team members and manager recipients of the team reports, and team reports were coded regarding their analyses and recommendations. Our results showed variable depth and creativity in the reports, with better reports associated with more team training and experience, and more diversity of work experience. Ratings of report quality, individual learning, and plant changes by team members and managers suggested that reports were only partially effective as boundary objects to reach shared understanding and negotiate action plans. Team members rated their reports more favorably when they had better access to information and found generic lessons for the plant and failed barriers that could have prevented problems. Managers rated reports more favorably when the teams had more investigation experience, better access to information, and stronger corrective actions.
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