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Complexity and ethical crisis management: A systemic analysis of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster

Yoann Guntzburger (Department of Management, HEC Montréal, Montreal, Canada)
Thierry C. Pauchant (Department of Management, HEC Montréal, Montreal, Canada)

Journal of Organizational Effectiveness: People and Performance

ISSN: 2051-6614

Article publication date: 25 November 2014

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to analyse the Fukushima nuclear disaster (FND) that occurred 11 March 2011 through the lens of the systemic and complexity theory. This analysis allows the proposition of some guidelines for the development of a more preventive and ethical approach in crisis management, including changes in human resource management and training.

Design/methodology/approach

Thanks to a layered analysis of the complex system that represents the FND and an actor/stake approach, this paper sheds light on the many failures that occurred on the personal, organizational, institutional, political and cultural level.

Findings

This analysis highlights that, beyond the apparent simplicity of the natural trigger events, a complex network of legal, cultural and technological paradigms, as well as the defense mechanisms of personal and organizational moral disengagement, have structured the context of this crisis, allowing for an event to turn into this disaster.

Practical implications

This study shows the limit of classical approach towards crisis management such as probabilistic risk assessment in terms of systemic and complexity: the assessment could be easily overcome if the mindset of the organization leaders is not already oriented towards preventive management.

Originality/value

The value of this study is participating to the effort of showing the need to develop more preventive mindsets and behaviours in the global economy, dealing with worldwide and complex issues.

Keywords

Citation

Guntzburger, Y. and C. Pauchant, T. (2014), "Complexity and ethical crisis management: A systemic analysis of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster", Journal of Organizational Effectiveness: People and Performance, Vol. 1 No. 4, pp. 378-401. https://doi.org/10.1108/JOEPP-09-2014-0060

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited