High Reliability Organisations in a Changing World: The Case of Air Traffic Control

Prowle, Malcolm J, Biedermann, Markus, Papatheodorou, Andreas and Bulatovic, Iva (2024) High Reliability Organisations in a Changing World: The Case of Air Traffic Control. Research in Transportation Business and Management, 53. Art 101099. doi:10.1016/j.rtbm.2024.101099

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Organisations, which operate relatively error-free for a prolonged period, are called Highly Reliable Organisations (HROs). Examples of such organisations are mainly found amongst those sectors, where failures have a high risk of resulting in harm to human life such as healthcare, chemical or nuclear power plants or the aviation industry. High Reliability Organisations Theory (HROT) stresses five characteristics, which HROs need to have to achieve high standards of stable operations. This paper provides insights on how one of the most important HROs within the aviation sector, i.e., Air Traffic Control (ATC), applies HROT in practice. As ATC is a service provider set up to maintain the high safety levels within the aviation industry, this is an exemplary case to investigate theory versus practice. Data for the empirical study relied on two Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSPs), which were able to cover all aspects of the research questions, i.e. the German ANSP Deutsche Flugsicherung GmbH as a large organisation and the U.K. ANSP Air Navigation Solutions Ltd. as a smaller one. Data were collected using seventeen semi-structured interviews with ATC management experts across three managerial levels and review of 672 documents. The findings suggest that although HRO theoretical principles are followed within the case organisations to a very large extent, the HROT applies predominantly in the areas of operations. Any indirectly or only loosely connected areas with ATC operations follow principles found in non HROs. The findings also support the strong correlation of a high level of resilience and HROT. From a policy and management perspective this raises the question, whether HROT needs to further adapt to consider parts of an organisation that are truly relevant to operate in a relatively error-free manner for prolonged periods rather than just organisations as a whole.

Item Type: Article
Article Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: High reliability organisations; Air traffic control; Air navigation service providers; Risk management; Safety; Aviation
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management > HD61 Risk in industry. Risk management
Divisions: Schools and Research Institutes > School of Business, Computing and Social Sciences
Research Priority Areas: Applied Business & Technology
Depositing User: Kamila Niekoraniec
Date Deposited: 08 Feb 2024 10:36
Last Modified: 15 Feb 2024 13:00
URI: https://eprints.glos.ac.uk/id/eprint/13674

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