Assessing the Structure of Non-Routine Decision Processes in Airline Operations Control

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Abstract

Unfamiliar severe disruptions challenge airline operations control professionals most, as their expertise is stretched to its limits. This study has elicited the structure of airline operations control professionals’ decision process during unfamiliar disruptions by mapping three macrocognitive activities on the decision ladder: sensemaking, option evaluation, and action planning. The relationship between this structure and decision quality was measured. A simulated task was staged, based on which think aloud protocols were obtained. Results show that the general decision process structure resembles the structure of experts working under routine conditions, in terms of the general structure of the macrocognitive activities, and the rule-based approach used to identify options and actions. Surprisingly, high quality of decision outcomes was found to relate to the use of rule-based strategies. This implies that successful professionals are capable of dealing with unfamiliar problems by reframing them into familiar ones, rather than to engage in knowledge-based processing. We examined the macrocognitive structure of airline operations control professionals’ decision process during a simulated unfamiliar disruption in relation to decision quality. Results suggest that successful professionals are capable of dealing with unfamiliar problems by reframing them into familiar ones, rather than to engage in knowledge-based processing.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)380-392
JournalErgonomics
Volume59
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jul 2015

Keywords

  • IR-96741
  • METIS-311167

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