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The philosophy of safety system changes and the reorganisation of the aviation industry

The philosophy of safety system changes and the reorganisation of the aviation industry

Papanikou, Maria (2016) The philosophy of safety system changes and the reorganisation of the aviation industry. PhD thesis, University of Greenwich.

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This thesis concerns aviation safety management. The thesis notes four problems in aviation safety management literature: a) the emphasis on technology as part of the risk management paradigm, serving as a remedy to human error, b) the assumption of an aviation industry being structured in a hierarchical manner (top-down), c) the under-conceptualisation of proactive safety management, and d) the exclusion of certain systems in systemic studies. The current study assumed that there are open systems in the aviation industry that are organised in a non-hierarchical manner, and that, through their interactions, these systems change. The thesis sought to describe the systems of the aviation industry and their interactions, looking at how the industry is organised (structure). In addition, the thesis sought to address the implications of this structure for systems theory and for aviation safety management. The thesis employed a qualitative research design, where two expert groups and 23 interviewees participated. The study employed appreciative inquiry in groups and interviews, optimising trade-offs between problem- and strength-based inquiries. The findings showed that aviation comprises of open, social systems, organised in a non- hierarchical manner. Their organisation is affected by power dimensions and the good safety record of the industry, which affect decision making about safety. In addition, the two dominant views about safety were found to be in conflict (traditional risk management versus systemic safety management). These findings distinguish chaos-complexity studies from systemic-holistic ones, show the social construction of safety, and the challenges of the traditional risk management paradigm and the opportunities for learning through systemic safety management. Macro-comparative studies are needed to better understand the different safety management philosophies in aviation globally. In addition, studies focusing on understanding the airline management styles can benefit local safety management design and practice.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Aviation safety management;
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HE Transportation and Communications
Faculty / School / Research Centre / Research Group: Faculty of Business
Faculty of Business > Department of Human Resources & Organisational Behaviour
Last Modified: 22 Nov 2021 15:08

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