Crisis management: what are the methodological challenges for ergonomics?

Theories and methodologies
By Gaël Morel, Christine Chauvin

This article deals with crisis management. Investigating a crisis situation involves numerous methodological challenges for ergonomists. The purpose of this article is to highlight the changes such situations bring to the standard methods and techniques of activity analysis used by ergonomists. To this end, the article is divided into four parts. The first part outlines the theoretical underpinnings of crisis management and the resulting methodological challenges. We identified four challenges: 1. Modeling and analyzing the crisis management activity of a collective; 2. Capturing the flows of information and interactions between actors; 3. Identifying the deficiencies in information management; 4. Choosing between on-site and simulated analysis. The second part is illustrative. Using an example – the implementation of the ORSEC NOVI plan – we indicate the benefits and inadequacies of the techniques and methods traditionally used in ergonomics to meet the challenges related to the analysis of the management of a crisis. The last two parts are the discussion of our findings and the conclusion. They put into perspective the approach we used in the context of the ORSEC NOVI plan with the real need to provide better tools to ergonomists who wish to analyze this type of work situation.


  • Sociotechnical network
  • Crisis management
  • Ergonomics
  • Systemic teamwork
  • ORSEC NOVI plan
  • Information flows
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