Advanced Search
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Operational Failures and Problem Solving: An Empirical Study of Incident Reporting

Contents:

Author Info

  • Julia Adler-Milstein

    ()
    (Harvard Business School)

  • Sara J. Singer

    ()
    (Harvard School of Public Health)

  • Michael W. Toffel

    ()
    (Harvard Business School, Technology and Operations Management Unit)

Abstract

Operational failures occur in all industries with consequences that range from minor inconveniences to major catastrophes. Many organizations have implemented incident reporting systems to highlight actual and potential operational failures in order to encourage problem solving and prevent subsequent failures. Our study is among the first to develop and empirically test theory regarding which reported operational failures are likely to spur problem solving. We hypothesize that problem solving activities are especially likely to follow reported operational failures that provoke financial and legal liability risks. We also hypothesize that management commitment to problem solving, enacted through managers' communication and engagement practices, can encourage frontline workers to conduct problem solving. We test our hypotheses in the health care context, in which the use of incident reporting systems to highlight operational failures is widespread. Using data on nearly 7,500 reported incidents from a single hospital, we find support for our hypotheses. Our findings suggest that frontline workers' participation in problem solving is motivated by some inherent characteristics of the problems as well as by particular management practices.

Download Info

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
File URL: http://www.hbs.edu/research/pdf/10-017.pdf
Download Restriction: no

Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Harvard Business School in its series Harvard Business School Working Papers with number 10-017.

as in new window
Length: 43 pages
Date of creation: Aug 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:hbs:wpaper:10-017

Contact details of provider:
Postal: Soldiers Field, Boston, Massachusetts 02163
Phone: 617.495.6000
Web page: http://www.hbs.edu/
More information through EDIRC

Related research

Keywords:

This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

References

No references listed on IDEAS
You can help add them by filling out this form.

Citations

Lists

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

Statistics

Access and download statistics

Corrections

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:hbs:wpaper:10-017. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Soebagio Notosoehardjo).

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.