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Organizational Lessons Learned: Natural Hazards Affecting Critical Infrastructure
Karlstad University, Faculty of Health, Science and Technology (starting 2013), Centre for Climate and Safety (from 2013). Trafikverket. (CNDS)ORCID iD: 0000-0002-7065-3491
2018 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic) [Artistic work]
Abstract [en]

This thesis focuses on an issue often presented as a solution – albeit a debated one ­– namely learning, specifically lessons learned from natural hazard events. Empirically, this thesis examines flooding and avalanches in a Swedish context, centering on systematic feedback mechanisms and learning from extreme events. Opportunities to and constraints affecting learning and knowledge sharing are discussed.

The thesis comprises four papers, collectively contributing a description of aspects of learning and feedback in a case study setting of the Swedish Transport Administration (STA) [Trafikverket], and providing an understanding of the present level of knowledge and awareness of climate change related natural hazards, as well as how knowledge sharing may give incentives and understanding for change. The notion of social learning is that individuals, groups, and organizations (and ultimately society) can learn from one another in a context, i.e. fostering mutual change. The goal of learning and using feedback is to create an opportunity to address changes in a thoughtful and explicit manner. At the same time, there is an implicit idea that learning occurs automatically somehow, which is problematized on the basis of the cases in the articles.

An interdisciplinary approach was adopted to obtain understanding of lessons learned related to natural hazards affecting critical infrastructure in Sweden. Interdiciplinarity refers to the use of theories from different research fields to achieve synergies in the search for explanations and useful understanding. The different objectives and aims of each paper have increased understanding of mechanisms related to aspects of feedback, learning and knowledge sharing after natural hazard impacts. Each paper also provides examples of opportunities and constraints to feedback mechanisms and learning in a collective context.

Abstract [sv]

Denna avhandling fokuserar på ett problem som ofta presenterats som en lösning, nämligen lärande. Mer specifikt fokuserar avhandlingen på lärande från naturolyckor och återkopplingsmekanismer inom och mellan organisationer

Empiriskt undersöker denna avhandling översvämningar och laviner i ett svenskt sammanhang. Fokus är på att öka förståelse av hur lärdomar relaterade till naturolyckor påverkar kritisk infrastruktur i Sverige: hur dessa fenomen förstås, och hur kunskapsåterföring av erfarenheter används i det som kallas ”lessons learned”.

Målet med att lära och använda feedback är att skapa möjlighet att möta negativa förändringar som extrema väderhändelser på ett genomtänkt och explicit sätt. Samtidigt finns det en implicit tanke att inlärning sker med viss automatik, vilket problematiseras, baserat på fallen i artiklarna. Möjligheter och utmaningar för lärande och kunskapsöverföring i kontexten extrema väderhändelser i Sverige problematiseras. Fyra artiklar bidrar med en beskrivning av aspekter av lärande och återkoppling i Trafikverket, och dess entreprenörer. Avhandlingen ger en uppfattning om kunskapsnivå och förståelse för klimatrelaterade naturolyckor, samt hur återhämtningsförmåga (resiliens) kan byggas utifrån kunskapsöverföring och lärande.

Abstract [en]

The Sendai Framework for Action (2015) and the agreement in Paris in 2015 (COP, 2015) were historic manifestations that society has to work with both mitigation and adaptation to achieve a reduction of the adverse effects of climate change. One way to achieve adaptation is through the integration of present coping strategies. A first step is to study the existing processes and routines that support short-term coping. This thesis targets different aspects of knowledge sharing and learning as a strategy for building adaptive and coping capacity. The Swedish Transport Administration provides cases of extreme events for the studies. Paper I deals with the possibility to apply industrial accident investigation methods to an extreme weather event and get useful insights into underlying root causes. Paper II displays the intra- and interrelated patterns that exist in public-private partnerships (PPP) in Sweden. Paper II describes parallel systems with infrequent overlaps regarding lessons learned. Paper III discusses collective learning approaches, in which obstacles and opportunities are identified. Furthermore, incentives to bounce forward in the aftermath are discussed from a collective learning approach. Paper IV reviews the concept of organizational memory building as a means for change.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Karlstad: Karlstads universitet, 2018. , p. 70
Series
Karlstad University Studies, ISSN 1403-8099 ; 2018:41
Keywords [en]
natural hazards, critical infrastructure, feedback, lessons learned, collective learning, memory building
National Category
Climate Research
Research subject
Risk and Environmental Studies
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-69357ISBN: 978-91-7063-877-0 (print)ISBN: 978-91-7063-972-2 (electronic)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kau-69357DiVA, id: diva2:1250086
Public defence
2018-11-09, RiskLab, 21A259, Universitetsgatan 2, Karlstad, 13:00 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Funder
Swedish Transport AdministrationAvailable from: 2018-10-19 Created: 2018-09-21 Last updated: 2018-10-19Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Merits of using a socio-technical system perspective and different industrial accident investigation methods on accidents following natural hazards: A case study on pluvial flooding of a Swedish railway tunnel 2013
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Merits of using a socio-technical system perspective and different industrial accident investigation methods on accidents following natural hazards: A case study on pluvial flooding of a Swedish railway tunnel 2013
2015 (English)In: International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction, E-ISSN 2212-4209, Vol. 13, p. 189-199Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Keywords
Feedback, Accident investigation, Socio-technical system, Flooding, Railway tunnel
National Category
Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
Research subject
Risk and Environmental Studies
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-37760 (URN)10.1016/j.ijdrr.2015.06.004 (DOI)000368928000018 ()
Available from: 2015-08-25 Created: 2015-08-25 Last updated: 2018-09-21Bibliographically approved
2. Systematic Knowledge Sharing in a Natural Hazard Damage Context: How Organizational Borders Limit Lessons Learned
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Systematic Knowledge Sharing in a Natural Hazard Damage Context: How Organizational Borders Limit Lessons Learned
2017 (English)In: Risk, Hazards & Crisis in Public Policy, ISSN 1944-4079, E-ISSN 1944-4079, Vol. 8, no 4, p. 356-380Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The aim of this paper is to increase knowledge about systematic lessons learning in a public-private partnership. Empirically, it focuses on road maintenance in Sweden where the Swedish Transport Administration (STA) is responsible for the state-owned infrastructure and tendered contractors carry out all maintenance. The tendering process stipulates that the stakeholders should enable learning and the knowledge transfer that is, by necessity, required for preventive purposes. Semi-structured interviews with project leaders from the STA and respondents from two tendering contractors of maintenance were used to investigate attitudes to and the understanding of sharing experiences and knowledge about damage caused by weather extremes and the relevance of climate change adaptation in their field. The analysis suggests that most of the respondents' experiences stay within their own organization, which creates parallel feedback loops, rather than becomes shared knowledge that could be used as lessons learned enhancing preventive work against future damage and loss. The analysis indicates imbalance in feedback of knowledge concerning weather extremes and their effects.

National Category
Other Social Sciences not elsewhere specified Climate Research
Research subject
Risk and Environmental Studies
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-65942 (URN)10.1002/rhc3.12119 (DOI)000417860900005 ()
Available from: 2018-01-25 Created: 2018-01-25 Last updated: 2018-09-21Bibliographically approved
3. Collective Learning in Organizations – Opportunities and Constraints: Case Study of an Avalanche Blocking a Railway Line
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Collective Learning in Organizations – Opportunities and Constraints: Case Study of an Avalanche Blocking a Railway Line
2018 (English)In: Risk, Hazards & Crisis in Public Policy, ISSN 1944-4079, E-ISSN 1944-4079, article id RHC312159Article in journal (Refereed) Accepted
Abstract [en]

Damaged infrastructures cause costly delays and losses. In this study, a collective learning framework and the theory of loops of learning are applied to a case study to develop a conceptual model on how lessons learned may be put to more effective use. Structures for systematic learning from events may serve as important tools in proactive adaptation for a more resilient infrastructure in future. This article studies an avalanche blocking a railway and an adjacent road in northern Sweden, which involves several interdependencies of critical infrastructures and actors. To enhance resilience future risk assessment and SWOT analyses should include the effects from a changing climate on the vulnerabilities of interdependence among multiple stakeholders and infrastructures. Knowledge-sharing foremost resulted in single-loop learning, leading to incremental changes. Respondents expressed an understanding of the importance of double-loops feedback but sensed that they lacked incentives from top levels in the organization for future reporting of experiences. This lack of incentives may impede establishing collective memory. The findings of this study can be used to improve policy recommendations, and support building resilience through products of learning.

Keywords
avalanche; case study; collective learning; critical infrastructure; natural hazard; railway
National Category
Other Social Sciences
Research subject
Risk and Environmental Studies
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-69266 (URN)10.1002/rhc3.12159 (DOI)
Available from: 2018-09-17 Created: 2018-09-17 Last updated: 2018-09-27
4. MANUSCRIPT: Can Organizational Memory be Built?
Open this publication in new window or tab >>MANUSCRIPT: Can Organizational Memory be Built?
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic) [Artistic work]
Abstract [en]

Organizational memory has become a key concept for many actors in society who want to stress the importance of deliberate change and progress in an organization. In the review of 40 articles from 1995 until today have some aspects for opportunities and challenges on memory building been identified. Building memory in an organization involves many different factors and prerequisites, but aspects of functional learning processes are perhaps most important for organizational memory building. Some scholars argue that organizational memory is part of the culture and sustainability of an organization, while others argue that organizational memory cannot be built in practice. Others point to learning from normal daily activities, and others are seeing the good examples as means to build memory. Yet others point to changes in rules, procedures and even in regulations as essential to progress. Severity of events and trust are dominant factors for learning that can lead to memory building, since individuals are effected by the severity, and trust since bond between individuals mean that they sense that their experiences may be of significance for actions or change. Common notions are that memory building and learning are ongoing activities that may lead to efficiency. Memory building may have to be flexible and adaptive to fit organizations with different means and goals. Organizational memory can be of significance for future decisions. Decisions are and may become even more intertwined with other societal actors, and decisions may have effects on other operations in society. Future research could study issues related to events that have effects on society and on organizations that have different means and goals for addressing common problems and their solutions in terms of how memory building works after such events, e.g. natural hazards related disasters, where multiple actors, institutions and operations are affected.

Keywords
organizational memory building, collective learning, organizational learning
National Category
Natural Sciences Other Social Sciences
Research subject
Risk and Environmental Studies
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-69398 (URN)
Available from: 2018-09-27 Created: 2018-09-27 Last updated: 2018-09-27

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