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John S. Carroll
Year Published:

Cataloging Information

Human Dimensions of Fire Management
Organizational Learning & Innovation
Organizational Culture & Identity

NRFSN number: 15818
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Carroll begins by discussing how different staff members in an organization know different things about how work is accomplished. For an organization to run properly, these staff members must engage in organizational learning, which means facilitating the development of organizational knowledge by supporting each other and acknowledging staff members interdependent nature. Carroll investigates how organizational learning occurs by studying two high hazard industries: nuclear power plants and chemical processing plants. The results indicate that, given the time constraints on staff, problems are often initially 40 USDA Forest Service RMRS-GTR-201. 2007 attributed to equipment or process. It is only with careful investigation that cultural and communicative problems are uncovered. For example, staff members often view other departments as living in different “thought worlds”. Carroll separates these thought worlds into four types: abstract, concrete, anticipation, and resilience. He argues that incident review processes should be more comprehensive and take all of these types into account in order to fix problems and facilitate greater organizational learning.


Carroll, John S. 1998. Organizational learning activities in high-hazard industries: the logics underlying self-analysis. Journal of Management Studies, 35, p. 699-717. DOI: 10.1111/1467-6486.00116,

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