Risk Management

, Volume 14, Issue 3, pp 177–201 | Cite as

Getting pandas to breed: Paradigm blindness and the policy space for risk prevention, mitigation and management

  • Denis Fischbacher-Smith
Original Article


The manner in which organizations are able to accept challenges to their worldviews is an important element in the identification and prevention of risk and the development of the policy spaces that seek to control the consequences of hazardous activities. A key consideration here is the manner in which paradigm blindness can prevent organizations from accepting challenges to these worldviews. This article considers paradigm blindness through a focus on the development of the policy space around the technical verification of risk as a policy construct. The article has a focus on those policy areas where there is a high level of uncertainty surrounding the technical determinations of both probabilities and consequences. Following on from a consideration of the processes around failure, the article considers the importance of paradigms in determining organizational decision making. The article moves on to consider the role of expertise within the process, and outlines two theoretical perspectives that seek to explain the relationships between the wider context of risk and the processes around technical verification.


risk prevention mitigation risk management paradigm blindness 



The author is grateful for the comments made by three referees on this article and to Moira as a Managing Editor for facilitating the review process. The author would also like to acknowledge the comments made by Bob McMaster, Alan Irwin and Ray DeSouza on an earlier draft of this article. As usual, all errors of omission and commission remain those of the author. The work underpinning this article was made possible due to a grant from the EPSRC (EPRSC EP/G004889/1) and the author wishes to acknowledge that support in the preparation of this article.


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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Denis Fischbacher-Smith
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Glasgow, Adam Smith Business SchoolGlasgowUK

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