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Can Cultural Differences Lead to Accidents? Team Cultural Differences and Sociotechnical System Operations

Strauch, Barry ;Gorman, Jamie C (Editor) ; Cooke, Nancy J (Editor) ; Salas, Eduardo (Editor)

Human Factors: The Journal of Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, April 2010, Vol.52(2), pp.246-263 [Peer Reviewed Journal]

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  • Title:
    Can Cultural Differences Lead to Accidents? Team Cultural Differences and Sociotechnical System Operations
  • Author/Creator: Strauch, Barry
  • Gorman, Jamie C (Editor) ; Cooke, Nancy J (Editor) ; Salas, Eduardo (Editor)
  • Language: English
  • Subjects: Cultural Differences ; Social/Interpersonal Factors ; Cognitive/Perceptual Factors ; Multioperator Teams ; Human Error ; Team Performance ; Marine System ; Aviation System ; Aerospace Systems ; Surface Transportation Systems ; Sociotechnical Systems ; System Design Features ; Accidents ; Accident Investigations ; Safety ; Engineering ; Psychology
  • Is Part Of: Human Factors: The Journal of Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, April 2010, Vol.52(2), pp.246-263
  • Description: Objective: I discuss cultural factors and how they may influence sociotechnical system operations. Background: Investigations of several major transportation accidents suggest that cultural factors may have played a role in the causes of the accidents. However, research has not fully addressed how cultural factors can influence sociotechnical systems. Method: I review literature on cultural differences in general and cultural factors in sociotechnical systems and discuss how these differences can affect team performance in sociotechnical systems. Results: Cultural differences have been observed in social and interpersonal dimensions and in cognitive and perceptual styles; these differences can affect multioperator team performance. Conclusion: Cultural factors may account for team errors in sociotechnical systems, most likely during high-workload, high-stress operational phases. However, much of the research on cultural factors has methodological and interpretive shortcomings that limit their applicability to sociotechnical systems. Application: Although some research has been conducted on the role of cultural differences on team performance in sociotechnical system operations, considerable work remains to be done before the effects of these differences can be fully understood. I propose a model that illustrates how culture can interact with sociotechnical system operations and suggest avenues of future research. Given methodological challenges in measuring cultural differences and team performance in sociotechnical system operations, research in these systems should use a variety of methodologies to better understand how culture can affect multioperator team performance in these systems.
  • Identifier: ISSN: 0018-7208 ; E-ISSN: 1547-8181 ; DOI: 10.1177/0018720810362238