Categories: ISCRAM2007 Conference, Summer School 2007


High Reliability Organizations (HROs) are organizations that operate under circumstances where the risk of failure is enormous but that nevertheless have the capacity to avoid failure. Archetypical HROs are nuclear power plants and the military. Research has identified some of the key characteristics that could explain the success of these organizations. These include (Weick et al. 1999) deference to expertise, a commitment to resilience, a sensitivity to operations (i.e. seeing the big picture), avoidance of simplification and learning from small errors. In this sense, an HRO is an archetype of a Learning Organization: ëthey actively seek to know what they don”t know, design systems to make available all knowledge that relates to a problem to everyone in the organization, learn in a quick and efficient manner, aggressively avoid organizational hubris, train organizational staff to recognize and respond to system abnormalities, empower staff to act, and design redundant systems to catch problems earlyí. ( Another interesting hallmark ñ from an IS perspective ñ is that the systems HROs employ, focus on reliability instead of efficiency. This makes them substantially different form the systems that are used by organizations that do not operate under trying conditions. More in particular, High Reliability Information Systems (HRIS) are not only different in their design, but also in the way they are developed, implemented, managed/maintained. However, the problem often is that mainstream IS methods and insights are also applied in the particular field of IS for emergency and crisis management. The result often is that emergency handlers end-up with an ineffective and inefficient IS. For these reasons we believe a more dynamic approach to IS imposes itself to make users capable of coping with uncertainty and the rapid changing of events. In this sense, we state that applying HRO principles in the design of Information Systems for Crisis Response and Management (ISCRAM) could be beneficial for this research field. This special session is an invitation to contribute to this emerging research.