Two cases in high reliability organizing: A hermeneutic reconceptualization

G.G.P. van den Eede

    Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

    1331 Downloads (Pure)


    In view of the primacy of organizational reliability, an exploration of what contextual and structural organization dimensions contribute to high reliability is a pertinent research issue. This dissertation attempts to answer this question in case of the incident management process of the IT department of a financial institution and of a nuclear power plant. By means of constructs stemming from research in so-called High Reliability Organizations (HRO) and SenseMaking, and by taking a hermeneutic research approach, building on quantitative as well as qualitative techniques, existing HRO literature is reconceptualized. It is this reconceptualization that allows for a confirmation of the assumption that not only the nuclear power plant – as an archetypical HRO – but also the financial institution – as a mainstream organization – are bearing genuine HRO hallmarks. However, the answer to what constitutes high reliability is less univocal. As a general observation, a high score on HRO constructs does not necessarily contribute to high reliability. Hence the conclusion that the poison makes the dose. On the other hand, starting from the reconceptualized framework, newly introduced HRO constructs like Team Orientation, Threat Flexibility and Efficiency do univocally influence high reliability. Therefore – notwithstanding the absence of an ideal reliability cocktail – there are strong indications that a reconceptualized HRO theory has the potential of offering valuable advice regarding organizing for high reliability.
    Original languageEnglish
    QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
    Awarding Institution
    • Tilburg University
    • van de Walle, Bartel, Co-promotor
    • Ribbers, Piet, Promotor
    Award date18 Dec 2009
    Place of PublicationTilburg
    Print ISBNs9789056682460
    Publication statusPublished - 2009


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