An investigation into the impact of information behaviour on information failure: The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power disaster

Andrew Thatcher, Ana C. Vasconcelos, David Ellis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (SciVal)

Abstract

Research into information failure has often focussed on deficiencies in information systems and research into information behaviour has often placed emphasis on the individual and his/her interactions, with some work focusing on organisational information behaviours and their contribution to information failures. Using the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power disaster as a case study this paper examines the impact of information behaviours on information failure, taking into account Affective Load Theory, Face Threat Theory and Escalation Theory. Content/Discourse analysis was carried out on four major reports on the Fukushima disaster, employing the constant comparison method of analysis to develop and explore categories representing different views of the actors involved. The findings revealed that an escalation of commitment to a ‘myth of nuclear safety’ occurred over the lifetime of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. This escalation ingrained information avoiding and ignoring behaviours in the Japanese nuclear industry, from the electric companies themselves to the local population living near nuclear power plants, allowing safety standards to fall, leaving Fukushima Daiichi vulnerable to threats such as earthquakes and tsunamis. A framework was developed explaining how escalating commitment interacts with information behaviour exhibited by the key actors in the situation.

It is concluded that information avoiding behaviours were a major factor in the Fukushima Daiichi disaster. These, influenced by barriers created by an escalation of commitment to the ‘myth of nuclear safety’, resulted in a catastrophic information failure.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)57-63
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Information Management
Volume35
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2015

Keywords

  • information failure
  • Face Threat Theory
  • Affective Load Theory
  • Escalation Theory
  • Fukushima disaster

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