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The Role of Capability Assessments for Decision Making

Stengard, Maria LU (2017) VBR920 20171
Risk Management and Safety Engineering (M.Sc.Eng.)
Division of Risk Management and Societal Safety
Abstract
When experience is insufficient or not present at all, making decisions becomes difficult. Capability assessments are tools to inform decisions in all situations regarding risk management, but the use of them in Sweden is discussed. With experiments made in the microworld MikroRisk, conclusions can be made about the investment patterns induced by a capability assessment under the conditions of both low and high probability of destructive events. Considering low probability, a capability assessment increases the tendency to invest in capability. For high probability, there is no particular change in investment patterns when there is access to a capability assessment compared to when there is not. The mean performance in the microworld was... (More)
When experience is insufficient or not present at all, making decisions becomes difficult. Capability assessments are tools to inform decisions in all situations regarding risk management, but the use of them in Sweden is discussed. With experiments made in the microworld MikroRisk, conclusions can be made about the investment patterns induced by a capability assessment under the conditions of both low and high probability of destructive events. Considering low probability, a capability assessment increases the tendency to invest in capability. For high probability, there is no particular change in investment patterns when there is access to a capability assessment compared to when there is not. The mean performance in the microworld was the same regardless of access to a capability assessment or not, i.e. a large investment in capability was not necessarily a better decision in terms of performance. However, there was a decrease of diffusion when a capability assessment was available, both in the investments and in the performance – which is notable when discussing the further use of capability assessments in Sweden. (Less)
Popular Abstract
WHAT CAN WE LEARN ABOUT THE FUTURE, WHEN THE PAST OFFER US NOTHING? TO ASSESS CAPABILITY IS TRICKY, ESPECIALLY FOR LOW PROBABILITY HAZARDS. NEVERTHELESS, THE ASSESSMENT HEAVILY INFLUENCES DECISION MAKING AND MAY THUS BECOME THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN COPING AND SUCCUMBING.

Capability assessments are estimations of one’s capability to manage destructive events, and a common part of municipal risk management. The event may be an extraordinary event which is very unusual and highly disruptive, or a small and common accident. In a microworld study featuring a Swedish municipality, it was shown that access to a capability assessment affect decision making – but only when considering extraordinary events.

When small and common event are... (More)
WHAT CAN WE LEARN ABOUT THE FUTURE, WHEN THE PAST OFFER US NOTHING? TO ASSESS CAPABILITY IS TRICKY, ESPECIALLY FOR LOW PROBABILITY HAZARDS. NEVERTHELESS, THE ASSESSMENT HEAVILY INFLUENCES DECISION MAKING AND MAY THUS BECOME THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN COPING AND SUCCUMBING.

Capability assessments are estimations of one’s capability to manage destructive events, and a common part of municipal risk management. The event may be an extraordinary event which is very unusual and highly disruptive, or a small and common accident. In a microworld study featuring a Swedish municipality, it was shown that access to a capability assessment affect decision making – but only when considering extraordinary events.

When small and common event are handled, the capability assessment neither affects the decision making, nor the performance in the microworld. When an extraordinary event is handled, a capability assessment tends to make people very cautious in their decisions. The assessment makes people prioritize an increasing capability to manage destructive events over other investments in the municipality. But more isn’t always better; actually the performance in the microworld didn’t change when the player had a capability assessment. Does a capability assessment induce unnecessary fear, causing decision makers to make unfavorable decisions? Or does it simply bring attention to dangerous hazards, which otherwise would have gone unnoticed?

The study was conducted in a microworld, which can be compared to a setup of short games where all data about how you have progressed is saved and critically analyzed to find patterns in your decision making. It may sound weird to use games in research, but several scientists have praised games as a method for cheap, easily controlled research in a complex and dynamic environment. It simply brings together the best parts of the two traditional methods: laboratory studies and field studies.

Participants in the study who had earlier knowledge of risk management showed no better performance than those without this earlier knowledge. Do these months, or even years, of study mean nothing?

In Sweden, the purpose and benefit of capability assessments are debated both among politicians and experts. Nobody seems to understand how to make them and why to use them. Earlier, detailed capability assessments were mandatory for both municipals and counties, but the confusion have made politicians to ease the requirements. Experts wonder if the new, stripped capability assessment can contribute at all to the safety and security of the citizens. (Less)
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author
Stengard, Maria LU
supervisor
organization
course
VBR920 20171
year
type
H2 - Master's Degree (Two Years)
subject
keywords
Capability assessment, decision making, microworlds, risk management, MikroRisk
report number
5040
other publication id
ISRN: LUTVDG/TVRH--5040--SE
language
English
id
8916425
date added to LUP
2017-06-22 12:28:47
date last changed
2017-06-22 12:28:47
@misc{8916425,
  abstract     = {When experience is insufficient or not present at all, making decisions becomes difficult. Capability assessments are tools to inform decisions in all situations regarding risk management, but the use of them in Sweden is discussed. With experiments made in the microworld MikroRisk, conclusions can be made about the investment patterns induced by a capability assessment under the conditions of both low and high probability of destructive events. Considering low probability, a capability assessment increases the tendency to invest in capability. For high probability, there is no particular change in investment patterns when there is access to a capability assessment compared to when there is not. The mean performance in the microworld was the same regardless of access to a capability assessment or not, i.e. a large investment in capability was not necessarily a better decision in terms of performance. However, there was a decrease of diffusion when a capability assessment was available, both in the investments and in the performance – which is notable when discussing the further use of capability assessments in Sweden.},
  author       = {Stengard, Maria},
  keyword      = {Capability assessment,decision making,microworlds,risk management,MikroRisk},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {The Role of Capability Assessments for Decision Making},
  year         = {2017},
}