Theoretical Perspectives on Making Safe Decisions
This chapter summarizes the key theoretical perspectives that form the basis of the analysis of decision-making. It briefly reviews several areas of research that are helpful in understanding how operational managers make decisions and, more importantly, how these practices may ultimately impact safety outcomes. Early work on high reliability organizations focused on decision-making as one of three areas where organizations with the potential for catastrophic failure were likely to differ from other organizations. Extending the rational decision-making process as far as possible within the constraints of the data and time available for operational decision-making and mandatory adherence to formal documented operating procedures. Being sensitive to areas where incremental decision-making based on judgement must be used. Being alert for small errors or unexpected events that have the potential to escalate into catastrophic failures. A very different body of knowledge about decision-making in general is classical decision-making or rational choice theory.