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Crisis management in high-reliability organizations: lessons from Brazilian air disasters

Victor Meyer Jr (Faculty of Business, Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Paraná, Curitiba, Brazil)
Miguel Piña e Cunha (Faculty of Business and Economics, Universidade Nova de Lisboa Nova School of Business and Economics, Lisboa, Portugal)
Diórgenes Falcão Mamédio (Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Paraná, Curitiba, Brazil)
Danillo Prado Nogueira (Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Paraná, Curitiba, Brazil)

Disaster Prevention and Management

ISSN: 0965-3562

Article publication date: 4 March 2020

Issue publication date: 12 March 2021



The focus of this study was to analyze crisis management in a context of high-reliability organizations (HRO) evidenced in two cases of Brazilian air disasters. Aspects of human and technological natures were examined, addressing the complex sociotechnical system.


This in-depth case study addressed the two most serious air disasters on Brazilian territory. The first case involved a midair collision between Gol Flight 1907 and the Legacy jet. In the second case, TAM flight 3054 had difficulty braking when landing at the airport and crashed into a building. Data were collected from official disaster documents.


The results revealed that the management and operational activities aimed to maintain the necessary conditions that prioritize a high level of reliability. High reliability mainly involves concern over failure, reluctance to accept simplified interpretations, sensitivity to operations, commitment to resilience and detailed structure specifications.

Practical implications

The implications are based on alerting highly reliable organizations, emphasizing the focus on managing more reliably, resiliently and conscientiously. Changes will be required in the operations of organizations seeking to learn to manage unexpected events and respond quickly to continually improve the responsiveness of their services.


In the perspective of an intrinsic case study for crisis management in a context of HRO and disaster risk management, the originality of this study lies in its examination of the paradoxical nature of control within the systems of dangerous operations in complex organizations, as well as their contradictions in a high-reliability system.



Meyer Jr, V., Cunha, M.P.e., Mamédio, D.F. and Nogueira, D.P. (2021), "Crisis management in high-reliability organizations: lessons from Brazilian air disasters", Disaster Prevention and Management, Vol. 30 No. 2, pp. 209-224.



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