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Augmented expertise in strategic decision making: lessons from Fukushima


Curnin, S and Brooks, B and Owen, C, Augmented expertise in strategic decision making: lessons from Fukushima, The Fourth Northern European Conference on Emergency and Disaster Studies, 10 - 12 June, Uppsala, Sweden (2019) [Conference Extract]

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Crisis governance requires leaders to make vital decisions under time pressure in highly uncertain circumstances. A group of researchers from Australia have been investigating the challenge of understanding decision making in high consequence low probability disasters.

This research paper draws on the unparalleled access and multiple interviews conducted over a two year period with the commander that led the Australian Urban Search and Rescue contingent to Fukushima. Our research unpacked the commanderís strategic decisions during the 10-day mission to understand how leaders make decisions in these unique situations. We draw on the concept of demarcating expertise by offered by Wolbers, Boersma and Groenewegen, and posit that in mega-disasters such as what occurred in Fukushima, effective strategic decision making does not require the separation of expertise but instead requires decision makers to combine their expertise. We hypothesise that the commander in this research enhanced his expertise by combining his decision-making expertise and his hazard specific expertise. This augmentation of expertise allowed for complex decision making under dynamic and uncertain conditions. We unpack a series of decisions from this deployment to Fukushima that necessitated augmented expertise and explore what this means for the theory of emergency management and its importance in research utilisation.

This panel called for papers in this discipline to provide systematic analyses and comparative case studies to identify and theorise patterns across crises and disasters. We argue that some situations are so unique that it is not possible to compare them across multiple cases. This is the distinction between emergencies or incidents, and unprecedented disasters.

Incidents will often have operating procedures to guide those involved and if these are absent, emergency responders can often draw on similar previous incidents to plan their course of action. Disasters, and especially unprecedented disasters, are unique in the sense that they involve several cascading elements that collectively have never been experienced before. These unprecedented disasters warrant an in-depth single case study approach to uncover, capture and learn from these unique events. The 2011 Japan earthquake, tsunami and nuclear mega-disaster required those practitioners on the ground to make decisions under extraordinary conditions.

Item Details

Item Type:Conference Extract
Keywords:emergency management
Research Division:Human Society
Research Group:Policy and administration
Research Field:Public administration
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in human society
UTAS Author:Curnin, S (Dr Steven Curnin)
UTAS Author:Brooks, B (Associate Professor Benjamin Brooks)
UTAS Author:Owen, C (Dr Christine Owen)
ID Code:132175
Year Published:2019
Deposited By:Office of the School of Social Sciences
Deposited On:2019-04-26
Last Modified:2019-09-13
Downloads:7 View Download Statistics

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