A Comparative Case Study of Organizational Learning in the Wildland Fire Community

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Authors
Petsch, Wayne
Issue Date
2022-02-16
Type
Dissertation
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en_US
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Abstract
To maintain or improve firefighter safety the United States federal wildland fire organization has sought to improve its organizational learning practice. The organization has developed several structures and processes to assist with this goal. Unfortunately, there are indications the efforts are not providing the hoped-for results. The purpose of this study was to examine the documentation surrounding four historic wildland fire tragedies that have successfully changed wildland firefighting practice to determine what the components of successful organizational learning have been. Using the Multifacet Model of Organizational Learning (Lipshitz et al, 2002) as a primary lens, the documentation surrounding the 1956 Inaja Fire, the 1994 South Canyon Fire, the 2001 Thirtymile Fire, and the 2008 Dutch Creek Incident revealed five components to organizational learning. The identified components are (1) a triggering event, (2) a leader who declares an intent to learn, (3) an organizational learning mechanism which produces valid information, (4) an implementation plan and process, and (5) accountability structures that support the learning and implementation. Evaluation of the findings lead to two recommendations for practice: the development of a decision support system for organizational learning, and the development of a continuing education system in the wildland fire organization. Keywords: Organizational learning, learning trigger, leader’s intent to learn, organizational learning mechanism, learning implementation, accountability
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Creighton University
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Copyright is retained by the Author. A non-exclusive distribution right is granted to Creighton University and to ProQuest following the publishing model selected above.
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