A Case Study of Crisis Management Readiness in Cross-National Contexts. Applying Team Cognition Theories to Crisis Response Teams

Tristan C. Endsley, Peter K. Forster, and James A. Reep


Catastrophic events such as the Fukushima nuclear disaster or the Malaysia Air 370 disappearance represent breakdowns in complex sociotechnical systems. These crisis responses require international collaboration and teamwork. Teams carry out tasks associated with complex problems, involving multiple goals and numerous actions all of which are overshadowed by uncertainty and a dynamic environment (Fischer, Greiff, & Funke, 2012). Cognitive systems engineering (CSE) methods utilizing the LLF seek to understand the cognitive processes and tasks of this environment and subsequently inform the design and development of sociotechnical systems used in these environments.

This chapter establishes theoretical perspectives of crisis management within the CSE context. It examines how case studies may be used to compare and contrast the theories of team cognition in two culturally diverse arenas and evaluates the criteria for effective response using cases derived from the living lab approach. Much of the derived information is viable for building cognitive systems that address ill-defined problem solving across multiple levels of collaborative activity. A common error in examining crisis management is assigning too much attention to the precrisis planning stage. From an emergency response perspective, much of the precrisis management planning might be considered part of a risk-management process. While this debate is beyond the scope of this chapter, the application of CSE helps inform future planning by capturing valuable information on the context or strategic environment of the crisis, situational awareness, or tactical knowledge, timeliness of response, and accuracy of response, which encompasses proper distribution of resources and the disclosure of hidden knowledge.

The chapter’s foundational concepts are then applied to two case studies encompassing the living lab approach and using participants in the United States and the United Kingdom.

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