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Title: The paradox and ethics of nondecision : the tragedy of the Atherstone-on-Stour fire
Author: Williamson, Derek P.
ISNI:       0000 0004 7226 5438
Awarding Body: University of Surrey
Current Institution: University of Surrey
Date of Award: 2018
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Adopting a deconstructionist research approach, this research problematizes prevailing logocentric decision theory and offers a critical enquiry into knowledge constituting the conditions of possibility for ‘nondecision’ at the Atherstone-on-Stour fire of 2nd November 2007 at which four firefighters were tragically killed. The research therefore, makes a philosophical and conceptual contribution, presenting the concept of nondecision as a radically alternative heuristic toward explaining institutional recursive behaviours and practice. Within this research, traditional research notions of the ‘situational specificity’ of an event are abandoned in favour of an exploration of the epistemological context governing conditions for knowledge, discourse and text. Consequently, a deconstructive genealogy research methodology is developed, wherein conventional linear-rationalist research approaches to data collection and analysis are problematized and abandoned for an integrated, iterative approach to the epistemological deconstruction of genealogically sourced archival text. In terms of methodology and praxis, deconstructive genealogy therefore provides opportunities for radical enquiry into institutional knowledge and understanding constituting behaviour and practice in relation to a research case. Case analysis involves the deconstruction of texts concerning institutional fire and rescue (FRS) decision making rules and subsequently involves the genealogical sourcing of influential and contributory narrative themes explicitly cited or immanent within the text, most notably concerning health and safety of firefighters, FRS ‘culture’, and firefighter ethos and identity. Consequently, this study offers a radical enquiry into the FRS institution. Specifically, it rejects and problematizes the tendency within the literature to pursue conventional research approaches which typically reinforce managerialist discourse and performative foundationalist notions of heroism and duty. Ultimately, nondecision, it is suggested, creates space for challenging our thinking, not only concerning the conditions of possibility for life - or death - of firefighters at fires, but future behaviour and practice, with implications for the ethics of ‘decision’ and the ethical governance of institutions and organizations.
Supervisor: Sadler-Smith, Eugene ; Bristow, Alexandra Sponsor: Surrey Business School Studentship
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available