Thursday, September 06, 2007

High Reliability Organizations and some blog reviews

I'll start reviewing blogs with comments now--I aim to review about three a day throughout the semester. I'll also continue with my own research. You can link to any of these blogs by clicking on the links on the right side of this page.

Jeremy's BMX blog--It has a good subject, and apparently the BMX bike industry is an area with a lot of technological innovation Jeremy can discuss. Unfortunately it's been 9 days since his first post, and that's too long between posts!

Fabian's blog--No posts yet! Enough said!

Andrew's Colts blog. This blog has an interesting post on the Colt's charity foundations. Two posts so far--a good start, but needs attention.

All blogs--pay attention to grammar, capitalization, and spelling. We all occasionally make mistakes, but blogs are public posts and require some care!

Now on to my own research project.

The Navy's Nuclear Power Program is what some organizational theorists call a "high reliability organization." The operation of these organizations are noteworthy because failure to perform at a high level of competence could lead to the destruction of the organization or severe harm to the general public. Operation of submarines and nuclear power plants are extreme examples of this type of organization.

When this type of organization operates routinely without incident, their operations are often relatively invisible. However, when these organizations experience accidents, the event is often accompanied by public clamor for investigation and reform of the organization. Examples of these kinds of events include the loss of the submarine Thresher in 1963, the Three Mile Island nuclear accident in 1979, and the loss of the space shuttle Challenger in 1986. Researchers in technical communication have examined the latter two incidents, and found that communication issues contributed in some ways to those disasters (Doheny-Farina, 1992; Dombrowski, 1992; Moore, 1992; Winsor, 1988). Since technical communication in these organizations may play a critical role in their operations, it is important to understand the nature of that role.


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