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The proceduralisation of traffic safety and safety management in the Norwegian Railway Administration: A comparative case study


The paper presents an exploratory comparison of two instances of proceduralisation in the Norwegian National Rail Administration, (1) the proceduralisation of traffic safety and (2) the proceduralisation of safety management, in their historic context. Hypotheses are proposed (1) concerning whether there may be systematic differences between the proceduralisation of sharp end operations and the proceduralisation of safety management at the blunt end, and (2) concerning a mechanism by which some procedures, due to their completeness or tautological nature, may be prone to hamper organisational learning.It is suggested that proceduralisation of activities at the sharp end in tightly coupled and geographically distributed systems may be perceived by rule users to fulfil an urgent need for coordination and resolution of dilemmas, and to convey a holistic understanding of the operations. Proceduralisation of safety management activities at the blunt end is not likely to be perceived in a similar manner, because the requisite coordination may be achieved by other means.It is also suggested that the commitment of rule followers may depend on how they perceive the proceduralisation process to influence their status with regard to power. The proceduralisation of traffic safety may be perceived as increasing the rule followers’ power to perform their tasks in a safe and effective manner by the way the rules coordinate the activities. Proceduralisation of traffic safety may also resolve some double binds. Moreover, the traffic safety rules may have helped to build a collective identity. It is considered unlikely that the safety management rules are perceived in a similar manner by line managers.It is suggested more generally that some procedures may hamper double-loop learning in organisations due their completeness or tautological nature, in particular if (1) the actors responsible for investigating an accident have a vested interest in the procedures in question, and/or (2) d


Academic lecture




  • Ragnar Rosness


  • SINTEF Digital / Software Engineering, Safety and Security

Presented at

New Technology and Work 2010: How desirable and avoidable is the proceduralization of safety?




09.12.2010 - 11.12.2010



View this publication at Cristin