Man, Technology and Organisation

Is it possible to assess an organization’s preparedness for the unforeseen? Development and evaluation of a methodology


Kaarstad, M. , Torgersen, G.-E.
Arts and social sciences journal, Vol. 8 (2017), 254
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Several serious incidents are unforeseen to organizations, companies and actors when they occur. Organizations as well as individuals are challenged by continuous threats, accidents and unforeseen events. Unforeseen events have other characteristics than events that can easily be predicted based on historical data and experience. This paper describes the data collection concept Methodology for handling the unforeseen (UN-METH), developed within the Strategic Institute Initiative at IFE(Institute For Energy Technology), IO-EPO(Integrated Operations-Emergency Preparedness Organization), and uses the insight about the nature of the unforeseen developed through the Norwegian basic research and book project “Pedagogy for the unforeseen". UN-METH consists of two different approaches: UN-CAF (Unforeseen Competence Assurance Framework), where an organization’s preparedness plans are analyzed to determine to what extent they are considering the unforeseen, and UN-ORG (UNforeseen Organization questionnaire), which is a questionnaire that can be distributed to personnel in an organization, where individuals evaluate their organizations’ preparedness and ability to handle the unforeseen. The main purpose of this article is documenting the development and evaluation process of UN-ORG. This process was conducted to investigate the applicability, usefulness and relevance of the questionnaire directly with professionals with relevant experience in the area. The development and evaluation approach is based on methodological principles proposed by Stufflebeam. Interviews, a survey and a case study were used during the evaluation. The results indicated that the questionnaire is highly applicable, focuses on the unforeseen and that it covers an important area. Interviews further identified specific recommendations of items to improve and add. Publishing the findings from this development and evaluation process of the questionnaire, is a first step in making the method known for different organizations. By using UN-ORG, separately or in combination with UN-CAF, organizations can gain valuable insight into their own preparedness for the unforeseen, and the researchers can get useful input and gradually improve the methodology itself.
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