The Social Construction of Knowledge in Mission-Critical Environments: Lessons from the Flight Deck

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This volume analyzes real in-flight communications to explain the dynamics of knowledge construction. With the use of a grounded theory approach, real-life scenarios for in-depth interviews with aviation informants were developed and analyzed using discourse analysis. The study revealed aspects of tacit knowledge and expertise behavior that develop in mission-critical environments. Among the findings, the author discovered:

* Silence is an interactional element and a substantial contributing factor to both completed flights and aviation incidents/accidents

* Hesitation is an early reaction when situational awareness is lacking

* The aviation sub-cultures contain several distinct micro-cultures which affect professional responsibility and decision making in micro-environments

* Human errors should be acknowledged, discussed and repaired by all actors of the flight model

* Non-verbal communication in institutional settings and mediated environments is instrumental to safe and efficient operations

The results suggest fruitful applications of theory to explore how knowledge is generated in highly structured, high-risk organizational environments, such as hospitals, nuclear plants, battlefields and crisis and disaster locations.

Katerinakis explains the emergent knowledge elements in communication command with messages "spoken-heard-understood-applied," from multiple stakeholders... The interplay of theory and real-flight examples, with key interlocutors, creates a valuable narrative both for the expert reader and the lay-person interested in the insights of hospitals, nuclear plants, battlefields, safety and rescue systems, and crisis and disaster locations.

Ilias Panagopoulos, PhD

Command Fighter Pilot, Col (Ret)

Senior Trainer, Joint Aviation Authorities (JAA) Training Organisation

Safety Manager, NATO Airlift Management Programme

In this path-breaking work, Theodore Katerinakis brings the study of human communication to the airplane cockpit as a knowledge environment. Toward that end, drawing on his own experience with the Air Force and Aviation Authorities and interviews with flight controllers and scores of pilots, Katerinakis both builds on moves beyond human factors research and ecological psychology... It is a work of theoretical value across disciplines and organizational settings and of practical importance as well. His lively narrative adds to translational research by translating knowledge or evidence into action in mission-critical systems.

Douglas V. Porpora, PhD

Professor of Sociology & Director

Communication, Culture and Media

Drexel University

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Springer Nature Switzerland AG
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