Sensemaking in Critical Situations and in Relation to Resilience - A Review
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Accidents and incidents, such as the capsizing of the anchor handling vessel Bourbon Dolphin in 2007 and the unintended list of the drilling rig Scarabeo 8 in 2012, underline the need for addressing sensemaking in safety-critical situations in the maritime domain to reduce risks. Sensemaking and risks must be understood as a part of the organizational context of the incidents. This paper presents the results of a comprehensive qualitative literature review conducted to establish more knowledge on sensemaking in the context of safety-critical situations and on the relation between the concepts of sensemaking and resilience. In the obtained literature sensemaking is used as a frame of reference for understanding accidents; it is used in relation to critical situations or complex operations in general; it is described by some as a process creating situational awareness; and it is explained by others mainly in terms of how it relates to resilience. Sensemaking creates the context for being resilient; at the same time sources of resilience help to make sense of the situation. Few authors provide explicit characteristics of sensemaking in safety-critical situations, where discrepancies can be supported by redundant systems or by training to ensure the needed questioning attitude. There is a lack of literature regarding sensemaking in safety-critical situations and in relation to resilience that also addresses important aspects of training and system design.