Chair in Forensic Psychology, University of Liverpool

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Professor Laurence Alison is Director of  the Centre for Critical and Major Incident Psychology at the University of Liverpool. His principal research interests are decision making in critical incidents - and specifically decision inertia and immersive simulation based learning. He leads the CREST project on 'An Exploratory Study Of Expertise And Inertia In Emergency Service Responses In A Counter-Terrorism Live Exercise'. This project examines police and emergency service response during a counter terrorism live exercise, with a specific focus on expertise, team decision making, and decision command-level inertia. Data was gathered through interviews and observations during a live exercise carried out by Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service (MFRS) in September 2016.

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The role of information sharing on decision delay during multiteam disaster response

Multiteam systems (MTSs) are comprised of two or more interconnected teams working toward shared superordinate goals but with unique sub-goals. To date, research has predominantly focused on how decisions are made and has viewed these cognitive processes as occurring within individuals. However, for MTSs operating in extreme environments such as disasters, it is often not a question of how decisions are made, but what is causing delays and failures to make decisions. To understand the causes of decision delay within these complex networks, it is important to focus on decision processes at the multiteam level. Using naturalistic observational and interview data collected during a multi-site, multiteam emergency response to a large-scale disaster exercise, this study examines both information sharing (what was shared, with whom, how long this took), and decision processes across teams (situational awareness—SA, plan formulation, and plan execution). Findings demonstrate that interdependencies in cognitive processes exist across individuals where goals overlap. Decision delay is not only caused by failure to develop SA within a team preventing their ability to formulate and execute plans but also by the inability of other teams to execute their plans. The implications of these findings for developing targeted interventions are discussed.

(From the journal abstract)

Waring, S., Alison, L., Humann, M., & Shortland, N. (2019). The role of information sharing on decision delay during multiteam disaster response. Cognition, Technology & Work, 22(2), 263-279.

Authors: Sara Waring, Laurence Alison, Michael Humann

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