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Title: Application of cybernetic models in the study of safety and economics of nuclear power systems and other high risk organizations : a study of nuclear power and high risk organizations to understand the central role of management in the safety and economics of these operations
Author: Spurgin, Anthony
ISNI:       0000 0004 2747 1048
Awarding Body: City University London
Current Institution: City, University of London
Date of Award: 2013
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The safety and economics of nuclear utilities and High Risk Operations (HROs) is very dependent on the quality of both the management and operations personnel. The decisionmaking capability of management is important in ensuring that the operators are adequately prepared to deal effectively with accidents. This means that management has to understand the risk of power production and adequately deal with it, so that the viability of the utility is not compromised, while still operating in an economical manner. The vehicle for enabling management to function effectively is a dynamic designed organizational structure in which all personnel communicate well and is designed to use the best features of human performance according to their roles within the organization. The purpose of this thesis is to investigate the application of Beer’s Viable Systems Model of an organization to see if it fits the requirements of nuclear power plant (NPP) organizations to be both economical and safe and to propose modifications to VSM to more closely match the needs and requirements for NPP organizations. It is realized that organizations can operate effectively when they are not operating under stress, however the situations changes when they are subjected to accidents. A well designed organization is one that is prepared and can respond quickly to an accident. Because of the possible impact of accidents on organizations, the thesis studied a number of accidents that have occurred in the nuclear industry and to cover the more general case of HROs, accidents affecting other industries were also considered. Based upon the accident investigations and from the study of human behavior, insights were developed related to characteristics of both managers and operations personnel. These insights led to the development of an understanding of how VSM needs to be considered when dealing with HROs, including NPP utilities. The top down structure of VSM mirrors the basic needs of an organization, but the demands of responding to the safety requirements of an organization requires an understanding of the effects of the time response limits placed upon an organization. These requirements dictate changes to the VSM organization designed for normal commercial organizations, where time for decisions and actions are not so important and these changes are addressed. Although in normal commercial organizations risk assessment is considered, in the NPP utility and HROs business it is extremely important, since poor decisions with respect to risk can affect the viability of the organization. The thesis covers the use of risk assessment technology to improve management decision-making. Currently, the industry uses risk assessment techniques for total plant risk (more for licensing purposed) and for plant state risk assessment. The contribution of the thesis is seen as contributing to improvements in the understanding of VSM and making some modifications to it. The importance of time response of organizations in combating accidents and its human performance background is demonstrated and the mechanisms whereby performance is improved by the use of procedures and training is explained.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: TA Engineering (General). Civil engineering (General)