Decision-making Uncertainties in Emergency Warning System Organizations

March 1987 (VOL. 5, NO. 1)

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The record of organizational decision making in warning systems is systematically reviewed. A descriptive model of organizational decision-making points and linkages is proposed. The review of 39 historical accounts included in this work led to the identification of four broad classes, comprised of 19 specific categories, of uncertainties in organizational decision making in organizations with warning system tasks. The major decision-making uncertainty classes identified in this review were: (1) ability to interpret the impending event; (2) communications; (3) perceived impacts of the warning and (4) exogenous influences. Primary problems have been recognition of the hazardous event and physical ability to communicate information with others int he chain of warning dissemination. It is concluded that decision-making uncertainty, at all levels and stages of warning systems, has been a major constraint to warning effectiveness and would well be a prime object to be mitigated by future warning system preparedness activities.