Assessing HRO Principles for Reliable Performance in Asset-Intensive Organizations: Expecting the Unexpected

Assessing HRO Principles for Reliable Performance in Asset-Intensive Organizations: Expecting the Unexpected

Jan-jaap Moerman (University of Twente, The Netherlands), Jan Braaksma (University of Twente, The Netherlands) and Leo A. M. van Dongen (University of Twente, The Netherlands)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-7152-0.ch009

Abstract

Asset-intensive organizations rely on physical assets that are expensive, complex, and have a significant impact on organizational performance. The management of such assets is essential when seeking for reliable performance in a world of increasing uncertainties. The observation that asset-intensive organizations deal with increasingly complex and tightly coupled systems and often operate in highly demanding environments may indicate that they should adopt practices from high reliability organizations (HRO) to ensure and maintain reliable performance in the fourth industrial revolution. This chapter operationalizes the HRO concept in the field of physical asset management, measures to what extent the underlying principles are recognized, and explores the relationship between the HRO principles and asset performance using a descriptive survey. Results indicated that the HRO principles are recognized and may, therefore, serve as an instrument for reliable performance when adopting new technologies. A positive relation between asset performance and the five HRO principles was identified.
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Literature Background

This section defines asset management and the need for reliable performance. It introduces the concept which has been used as the foundation for the survey among asset-intensive organizations which will be described in the results section.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Deference to Expertise: Refers to the ability of HROs to defer decision making in case of emergencies to individuals with the expert knowledge to deal with a specific problem, irrespective of their status within the organizational hierarchy.

Preoccupation With Failure: Refers to HROs’ constant preoccupation with potential errors and failures.

Asset-Intensive Organizations: Asset-intensive organizations such as utilities, heavy engineering, pharmaceuticals, and transportation rely on physical assets that are expensive, complex, and have a major impact on organizational performance.

High Reliability Organizations: High reliability organizations (HROs) are a subset of high-risk organizations designed and managed to avoid accidents in complex, tightly coupled systems.

Commitment to Resilience: Is concerned with the ability of HROs to not only effectively anticipate errors but also to cope with and bounce back from errors and unexpected events.

Sensitivity to Operations: Refers to the ability to obtain and maintain the bigger picture of operations that enables HROs to anticipate effectively potential future failures.

Reluctance to Simplify: Refers to HROs’ ability to collect, analyze, and prioritize all warning signs that something may be wrong and avoid making any assumptions regarding the causes of failure.

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