Click for next page ( 81


The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement



Below are the first 10 and last 10 pages of uncorrected machine-read text (when available) of this chapter, followed by the top 30 algorithmically extracted key phrases from the chapter as a whole.
Intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text on the opening pages of each chapter. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.

Do not use for reproduction, copying, pasting, or reading; exclusively for search engines.

OCR for page 80
7 Organizational Aspects of the Nuclear Industry The research suggested about the human-system interface, the personnel subsystem, and human performance win not, by themselves solve ad the problems. Problems of training, skill maintenance and enhancement, and motivation and morale still remain. Dispirited personnel will be likely to use good equipment carelessly, and poorly trained personnel to use it inefficiently. This implies a need for research at the outer layers of Figure 1 to com- plement the program we have described in the previous sections for the two innermost levels. The panel recognizes that the focus of human factors in the nuclear industry has been on people who directly interact with the machineoperators and maintenance personnel. A complete treatment of human factors also includes broader questions about the organization and atmosphere in which these people function. While recommendations that follow are addressed to the nuclear industry, much of the needed research is not nuclear specific. In part this is because research on organizational factors is not as advanced as, for example, on human-system interface design. Be- cause most people in the nuclear industry are not farn~liar with the social and behavioral science fields that address this level, the discussion of research background and needs is kept at a general level for the nonspecialist. The panel's primary concern in the area of organization and management is the extent to which the organization is able, quickly 80

OCR for page 80
81 and efficiently, to prevent, detect, and react to any threats to over- all system safety. Within the constraints imposed by regulatory bodies and standards, management decisions affect many aspects of plant safety, both directly and indirectly. Managers determine or are ultimately responsible for the type of equipment employed and the extent to which that equipment incorporates human be- havioral knowledge in its design. They determine recruitment, selection, training, promotion, and compensation policies, thereby determining membership and placement within the organization. Management practices are responsible, directly or indirectly, for establishing and maintaining an organizational culture that rein- forces safety and the quality of performance. Managers decide how they will interact with other organizations outside the plant, including utility groups (e.g., INPO), unions, and state and fed- eral regulators. And finally, managers are largely responsible for determining the type of people who are admitted into their own ranks, which clearly affects the continuity of a given organizational culture. Management's role is central to the safe functioning of plants. Deep understanding of the factors affecting management de- cisions and the consequences for safety and the quality of per- formance is essential for effective regulation and operation. Re- cent examples of the crucial importance of management and or- ganization include management failures in the Challenger tragedy (Rogers, et al. 1986) and the well-documented failures in the Three Mile Island incident and at Chernobyl (NUREG-1250, 1988~. It is important to note that the ways in which management and orga- nization affect safety in the context of nuclear power plant oper- ations are researchable questions (e.g., NUREG/CR-1656, 1980b; NUREG/CR-3215 volumes 1 and 2, 1983f; NUREG/CR-3601, 1984e; NUREG/CR-3645, 1984c; NUREG/CR-3737, 1984d). An- swers may result in the reduction of risk and the acquisition of useful tools (e.g., NUREG/CR-3215, volumes 1 and 2 1983f). We believe that management and organizational factors have a signif- icant effect on plant safety as well as productivity and must be subjected to systematic research. The topics discussed in this section are not a comprehensive list of researchable topics in the area of management and organi- zation. They reflect the panel's judgment as to important areas of inquiry that are likely to bear fruit in terms of improved safety. The panel views two topics organizational design and culture and

OCR for page 80
82 the effects of regulatory measures on operating and maintenance crews- as most unport ant for immediate attention. Other topics for subsequent, longer-term research are also suggested. THE IMPACT OF REGULATIONS ON THE PRACTICE OF MANAGEMENT Rationale and Background Organizations and entities beyond a utility's boundaries have a significant effect on its policies and practices. This is particu- larly true with respect to various regulatory agencies, especially the NRC, but also state PUCs, and the environmental, health, and safety agencies of the states and the federal government. Manage- ment serves as the lens through which the external environment is focused on the utility. If management is adroit and skilled, variations in local practices and corporate situations can be taken into account in applying regulations. If it is not, regulations may result in inflexibilities in the workplace that hamper control room operations and maintenance crew performance. In addition to their relations with regulatory agencies, util- ities also deal with INPO, EPRT, EEl, and other organizations supported by utilities themselves, as well ~ union organizations. How utilities respond to the opportunities and challenges pre- sented by these organizations bears on their openness to new ideas and innovative human factors technology, their ability to inde- pendently evaluate the products of research or consulting, and their commitment to continual self-improvement. Since utilities are placing greater dependence on INPO for establishing practices that result in excellence for individual utilities, it is important to understand the relation between individual utilities and INPO. Utilities must also deal on a regular basis with unions. The unionization of power plant operators and maintenance personnel may have a positive, negative, or neutral effect on attaining high degrees of safety. Research Recommendations Some regulations must be applied directly and specifically without modification to local conditions. To what degree does

OCR for page 80
83 specificity have the desired effect? Are there organizational condi- tions that produce a sense of regulatory overload among operators or maintenance crews, or evoke informal norms that reduce their intended effect (Bardach and Kagan, 1982~? Research examining the responses of management to pressures from the regulatory en- vironment would shed light on how safety at a facility is enhanced or impaired by regulatory actions intended to have positive conse- quences. What conditions are associated with the contribution of unions to safety, on one hand, and to high production capacities, on the other? Are these conditions mutually exclusive? One might ex- pect unions to stress investment in safety equipment and proce- dures; however, as pressures for economizing arise, such invest- ments could be seen as potential threats to the number of jobs in the plant. What union policies and practices reinforce or erode emphasis on plant operating safety and quality maintenance? How can unions and management be encouraged to work cooperatively to encourage safety? ORGANIZATIONAL DESIGN AND A CULTURE OF RELIABII ITY Rationale :'nd Background The formal structure, procedures, and practices of an orga- nization bind the behavior of its members and strongly affect the norms and perspectives they have regarding critical activities. Utilities vary in scale, diversity, and their legal relation with state PUCs. Most employ multiple sources of electrical power gener- ation; nuclear power reactors are not usually the predominant source of supply. Therefore, corporate policies must take into ac- count the operating demands of varying mixes of power-generating technologies. The operating demands of nuclear reactors are more stringent than other generating technologies. Relations between corporate and plant management may vary from highly support- ive, with considerable plant management autonomy, to distant and distracted, with punitive reactions to problerr~s that may arise due to unexpected technical developments. The management and operation of nuclear power reactors present operators with very demanding circumstances. Failures have serious consequences. Operator and maintenance crews are effective only if they have

OCR for page 80
84 full knowledge of the appropriate processes and high motivation to carry them out. A great many of these processes are formalized in standard operating procedures (SOPs). But SOPs, or informal operating rules, rarely provide sufficient guides for behavior to account for all the technical and cooperative skins or motivations necessary for effective, safe performance. The gaps are filled by an organization's culture, and motivations sustained by its manage- rial cInnate. The culture of management in nuclear power plants is likely to be colored by an engineering and nuclear navy ethos. Managers so- cialized in an engineering culture often devalue operational knowI- edge and knowledge from the field, while managers socialized in the military often underemphasize the horizontal coordination of units and overemphasize the vertical chain of command. There is reason to believe that in some circumstances a strong vertical chain of command inhibits the flow of information from operating levels reporting hazards and troubles (NUREG/CR-3737, 19846~. Researth Recommendations Given this background, a higher-priority research topic is the relation of formal structure and practice to the development of norms and expectations that reinforce safe, reliable behavior by operators and maintenance crews. To what degree do the stringent operating demands result in tensions within the corporation? Are differential rewards and punishments necessary as a function of the type of generating technology? How do various utilities manage these differential requirements? ~ this a source of tension for the nuclear operations? If tensions exist, do they increase the difficulty of establishing a safe operating environment? What are the variations in corporate-plant management prac- tice and style across the several types of utilities? Is there sys- tematic variation in the level of safety and days of high-capacity production? What supports are provided by the corporation for training, quality assurance, and other aspects of operation that are seen as necessary by plant management? What group norms are evident within a nuclear power plant concerning relations among and obligations to group members ant] to the organization as a whole? What organizational conditions, practices, and incentives reinforce commitments to production as well as to very high levels of safety? How does the adversarial

OCR for page 80
85 culture of regulation effect the development of cooperative norms? It should be emphasized that research on adversarial relations is extremely difficult and may have to be directed by a third party rather than those in the adversarial relationship. To what degree does the employment of operators, super- visors, and managers trained in the military reinforce patterns of vertical authority and centralized administration? Does this lead managers to emphasize mechanisms of vertical integration and downplay mechanisms of horizontal integration? Under what conditions does such training result ~ a limited flow of error- identifying information? How can managers orient changes to improve their effectiveness if such changes are alien to the culture from which they come? In sum, how might managers manipulate organizational design to meet the challenges of information flow in knowledge-intensive settings? How do such variables as span of control, vertical height, horizontal breadth, functional specialization, interunit coordina- tion, and the linkages between staff and line ultimately affect safety? OPERATIONAL DECISION MAKING Rationale and Background Decision making in organizations' operating technologies based on sophisticated knowledge presents both managers and operators with a continuous challenge of reconciling the formal authority of hierarchical position and the responsibility to make decisions under circumstances in which non-decision-making operators may have better information on conditions and consequences than man- agers. Managers can attempt somehow to command the knowI- edge necessary to understand operating conditions quickly enough to set directions, indicate a course of action, etc. Or, if it be- comes impossible to stay on top of a current technical situation (a more likely case), managers can, by establishing formal relations with subordinates, make it possible to delegate decisions to lower- level participants, trusting that they will inform decision makers of untoward conditions even if such conditions result from the operators' own actions.

OCR for page 80
86 Research Recommendations Relations between plant management and operators vary wide- ly among utilities. Some are quite satisfactory; others are distant and strained. Are there systematic differences in the structure and dynamics of managerial and operator relations? Do they affect the speed and quality of decision making between opera- tors, supervisors, and plant management? Are there particular communication, training, or promotion factors associated with top performance and nearly "failure-free" operations? What are the communication patterns between the corporate offices and power plant management that ensure the information necessary for timely emergency decision making? Do the conditions that fos- ter effective communication between supervisors and work teams in different types of situations vary by type of worker? T1MI:LY RECOGNITION O1? EMERGENCIES Rationale and Bacl~gronnd Most recent research on emergency response has examined the increasing sophistication of monitoring devices. While these technical improvements may prove to be valuable aids to operators, they may also compound the problem of recognizing the patterns of information necessary to identify an emergency. Recognizing the onset of emergencies is a process that makes use of complex and changing channels of information, some of which may be suspected as unreliable. Hence, identifying an emergency in plant operations is inevitably a group process. Research Recommendations Understanding the ways in which groups evaluate evidence and reach conclusions under stress is crucial for the design of emergency operating procedures and the development of better training methods. Research is needed on models of organizational design to deal with emergencies (NUREG/CR-3524, 1984f; NUREG/CR-1745, 1980a), for it is reasonable to assume that an organizational design well suited to normal operations may not necessarily be equally effective in responding to emergencies.

OCR for page 80
87 CHARACTERISTICS OF MANAG1:RS Rationale and Background Who are the managers whom we entrust with safe and pro- ductive operations? What type of qualifications, experience, and training do they receive for these crucial positions? The NRC- sponsored research on the STA highlights the links between prom lems of career management and knowledge management (NUREG/ CR-2952, 1983a; NUREG/CR-3396; 1984b; NUREG/CR-3785, 1984a; NUREG/CR-4280, 19856~. Many operators and utilities were disappointed with the role of the STA and some had difficulty in filling this position. Engineers who became STAs disliked the shift work, often lacked operating experience, could not gain the respect of the operating crews, and often had no meaningful work to do when the plant was operating smoothly. NRC researchers note that utilities experimented with or at least considered various alternative roles to meet the purposes of this function, such as a shift engineer's getting a license or a shift supervisor's earning an engineering degree. Such proposed alternatives must resolve two difficult labor market and career issues: (1) people with engineer- ing degrees want a career and may tolerate shift work only for the short run, and (2) the labor market cannot supply many people who combine both operations and engineering competence. Upgrading and professionalization' of the work force are re- shaping the balance between internal and external labor markets. This poses a substantial challenge to nuclear utilities. Employ- ees in field or low-level jobs who receive more responsibility and training yet lack advanced degrees and further technical or general training at school cannot advance into management ranks. Tradi- tional "bridge" jobs that linked the bottom of the job ladder with the middle are disappearing, in part because of automation, while credential requirements mean that those without degree cannot advance, even if they are competent. Knowledge-intensive industries may be developing a new sys- tem of integrating training, jobs, and careers. Evidence thus far suggests that people without degrees will be more intensively trained, while occupying paraprofessional jobs. Such people are likely to return to school, often taking a new job with another company. They move in and out of enterprises and colleges more frequently to shape an upwardly mobile career.

OCR for page 80
88 Researth Recommendations Analysis of the training, education, and experience of U.S. nuclear power plant managers is a necessary baseline for tracking changes over time, as demographic and economic forces change the profile of this work force. In addition, comparison of these qualifications to judgments concerning acceptable qualifications would point the way toward improvements, should any be needed. Better knowledge of managerial qualities could result in increased public confidence in nuclear power generation as a safe energy source for the United States. There is also a question of whether utilities have an adequate conception of operators. Are they merely workers, or are they professionals? If the latter, how can a utility overcome the con- straints of a tight labor market? Would it be too costly to create a professional corps of operators who have degrees, operating li- censes, and welI-defined career paths? Could experience in fields employing paraprofessionals, such as paralegal, paramedical, and police personnel, be applied to nuclear power plants? What is the consequence of this method of competing in today's rigorous labor market? The implications for the nuclear industry's personnel and training programs are likely to be significant and warrant sus- tained study. What relations with local educational institutions could be developed? What changes in career structure could be encouraged by changes in utilities' hiring and promotion practices?