Published works

Published works

Decision making, team monitoring and organisational learning in emergency management: annual project report 2016-17

TitleDecision making, team monitoring and organisational learning in emergency management: annual project report 2016-17
Publication TypeReport
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsBearman, C, Brooks, B, Owen, C, Curnin, S, Rainbird, S, Stuart, H
Document Number345
Date Published09/2017
InstitutionBushfire and Natural Hazards CRC
CityMelbourne
Report Number345
Abstract

Strategic level emergency management is becoming ever more sophisticated as emergencies caused by natural hazards become more complex and dynamic. If we are going to expect people to operate in this increasingly complex environment we need to make sure that they have the necessary skills and tools.  This is especially true of non-technical skills such as teamwork and decision making.  This project aims to develop simple practical tools that help people to make better decisions and manage teams more effectively.  As part of this work we are also interested in understanding some of the enablers and barriers to effective research utilization.  The project therefore has three streams: team monitoring, decision making and organizational learning.

In the team monitoring stream, two teamwork checklists have been developed based on an extensive literature review and discussions with our end-user partners.  These checklists (known as EMBAM & TPC) have been trialed during exercises, real time operations and debriefs with encouraging results.  Qualitative and quantitative studies have so far shown that these checklists are clear, concise and provide useful information that can be used to improve teamwork.

In the decision making stream, we have conducted three interrelated studies that examined how emergency management organisations maintain, assess, and improve the quality of their decisions. The three studies included using a critical decision method to explore strategic decision making during an international disaster, exercising teams in simulated emergency events and training focused on improving decision making skills and knowledge. The resultant qualitative and quantitative research has identified several consistent themes in terms of where participants perceive their organisations to be performing well and areas that can lead to improvements in decision-making. Further tranches of data collection have been scheduled to verify these results across 2017.

The key aim of the organizational learning stream is to help emergency management staff to function more effectively in increasingly complex environments. Its overall approach is to help agencies to 'learn how to learn', so they understand how to embed effective learning practices and systems into their organisation's culture. The experiential learning model, which is grounded in real-world experiences rather than classroom training, is a key focus of this research. No organisation can forgo learning. All experiences provide opportunities for learning to occur. A key insight for agencies interested in facilitating improvements in learning is to locate potential weak links in the learning cycle and to develop a better understanding of how to learn.

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