The investigation and evaluation of organizational culture is the province of the social sciences, especially psychology and organizational behavior. However, other fields of study can make useful contributions to our understanding of how to motivate and sustain an effective process safety culture. Game theory is one of these tools. Game theory is the scientific study of interactive decision-making with a special emphasis on understanding the interplay of conflict and cooperation between different stakeholders. For example, game theory suggests that the identification and communication of positive outcomes from a process safety assessment is just as important as the identification and correction of deficiencies.
This paper first introduces some basic concepts from game theory and applies them to the methodology of process safety assessments. A conceptual framework for the implementation of the process safety assessment process with balanced positive and corrective actions will be described. Then game theory concepts are used to demonstrate the following key points:
- The importance of random sampling for observations and reviews
- Praise in public: the significance of communicating/publicizing positive outcomes (compliance with process safety program policies and procedures) across the organization
- Criticize in private: the value of correcting deficiencies privately with education on proper adherence to procedures
Assessment guidelines typically focus on the negative outcomes - correcting deficiencies. This paper argues that the assessment process must also use the positive outcomes - the compliance successes - to provide positive reinforcement to the process safety culture. Implementing this strategy is consistent with pragmatic management practices and is supported by empirical studies in behavioral science. Finally, this paper discusses how these ideas fit within the framework of AIChE/CCPS and API guidance documents.
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