The limits of normal accident theory

Andrew Hopkins*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review

    65 Citations (Scopus)


    Embedded in Perrow's book Normal Accidents is a theory of normal accidents. The theory is limited in a number of important respects. First, it applies to only a very small category of accidents. Second, its concepts are ill-defined leading to serious ambiguities about just what the theory covers. Third, in some crucial respects it appears to be wrong. Fourth, recent attempts to reformulate the theory by expanding it in various ways - by incorporating basic insights from organizational sociology along with the concepts of interest group and power - actually replace rather than expand the theory. Finally, the theory is of very limited policy relevance.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)93-102
    Number of pages10
    JournalSafety Science
    Issue number2-3
    Publication statusPublished - Jul 1999

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