Title: Communication in an uncertain environment: risk assessment in aeronautics

Authors: Arlette Bouzon; Joëlle Devillard

Addresses: University Toulouse III Paul Sabatier, EA 827, LERASS, 115B route de Narbonne, BP 67701, 31077 Toulouse Cedex 4, France ' University Toulouse III Paul Sabatier, EA 827, LERASS, 115B route de Narbonne, BP 67701, 31077 Toulouse Cedex 4, France

Abstract: Going beyond the singularity of some fieldwork, our case study in French aeronautics mobilises theories of situated action and distributed cognition. It is based on a comparative qualitative study of three major companies, and on a quantitative survey among the members of a professional network of engineers, reliability and quality controllers. Our study takes into account the confrontation between the theoretical principles of scientific research in reliability, and the constraints of professional practices within a hierarchised universe. The communicational dimension of risk which emerged some 15 years ago around crisis communication appears to constitute a major problematics going far beyond crisis. Complexity and risk entail a particular kind of collective conception which differs from that of ordinary products because of the plurality of knowledge and actors involved. All actors, continuously aiming at technico-economic compromises, must understand one another and interact in an uncertain universe to reach an aim of collective creation while mastering associated risks, a process that depends mainly on the expertise of intermediary objects (plans, reports, and so on) at various steps of the conception by independent actors. But our field observation of these objects suggests the communicational aspect warrants more attention.

Keywords: communication; risk management; risk perception; aeronautics industry; aeronautical engineering; uncertainty; France; reliability; situated action theory; distributed cognition theory; quality control; risk assessment.

DOI: 10.1504/IJRAM.2015.068140

International Journal of Risk Assessment and Management, 2015 Vol.18 No.1, pp.52 - 65

Available online: 18 Mar 2015 *

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