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A risk management framework for a complex adaptive transport system

Abstract : Over the last ten-fifteen years, science has made significant advances in fields relevant for risk management. However, current risk management practices in industry have not yet benefitted from these developments. The research question addressed in this dissertation is: What kind of risk management framework should be used for managing transport risks when the modern risk perspectives and the latest understanding of safety are embraced, and the transport system is considered a complex adaptive system? The focus of this research is on transport risks, taking the perspective of a national transport safety agency, tasked with overseeing safety across several modes of transport, including aviation, maritime, railway and road safety. The scientific literature on risk and risk assessment, safety and safety management, as well as complex adaptive systems are reviewed. The research illustrates that a modern risk perspective recognizes the importance of uncertainty and strength of knowledge in risk analysis, as well as the role of surprises. The transport system is identified as a complex adaptive system, characterized by a high number of interactions, emergence, multiple feedback loops, nonlinear phenomena, unpredictability and counter-intuitiveness. The recommended ways to interact with such complex systems and to try to achieve positive change are explained. Concepts related to safety management are also investigated, especially the concept of resilience, which is interpreted as graceful extensibility of teams or organizations, or as sustained adaptability. Evidence of existing risk management frameworks in both the industry and scientific literature is outlined and reference is made to the international ISO 31000 standard for risk management. Based on the literature review, a set of criteria for a modern risk management process is developed. A risk management framework for managing transport risks which embraces modern risk perspectives and accounts for the transport system as a complex adaptive system is proposed. It enables risks in all transport modes to be presented in a single risk picture and supports decision-making to maximize the safety impact achievable with limited resources. The impact is further enhanced by intervention strategies such as adaptive policies and experimentation, which are well-suited to complex systems. The framework is validated against the criteria developed, and by comparison to existing methods. A case study presents the on-going implementation of the developed risk management framework at the Finnish Transport Safety Agency. Both the proposed risk management framework and the dissertation are structured according to the ISO 31000 framework.
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Jari M. Nisula. A risk management framework for a complex adaptive transport system. Multiagent Systems [cs.MA]. Université Paul Sabatier - Toulouse III, 2018. English. ⟨NNT : 2018TOU30041⟩. ⟨tel-02078295⟩

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