Risk management; a behavioural perspective


Publication date


Series/Report no

Journal of Risk Research;Volume 21, 2018 - Issue 6


Taylor & Francis

Document type


The risk contributor is usually regarded as responsible for risk mitigation and accident compensation, especially when the risk is due to the operation of a commercial company. The culpability of risk has resulted in several approaches to safety management. Risk management based on quantitative risk analysis (QRA) emerged in the defence and nuclear industry during and after WW2 and is by now introduced in almost every industry with high-risk potential. During this period risk analysis and management as a profession has evolved considerably. Technical failures and operator errors used to be considered as the prime causes of accidents in the early days of risk analysis. Based on investigations of major accidents in the latter half of the last century, poor safety culture and mismanagement were introduced as possible additional causes of major accidents. Human error in decision-making is however rarely quantified and thus not included in QRA. Knowledge from the experimental analysis of behaviour is absent in practical or operational risk management. This paper advocates an approach to risk management where the decision part of the chain of events is explicitly included. The behavioural perspective introduced implies that the application of experimentally based behaviour science and QRA both should be pursued, mainly because quantitative risk analysis is a strong, and probably the best, defence against decision errors. In an operational situation, management must do trade-offs between objectives where safety is but one of several considerations. When the risk is not quantified, safety looses out to other more easily quantified objectives of a company. The fatal decision error that led to the Challenger accident is used as an example.




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  • https://hdl.handle.net/10642/6431