A pursuit to reliability – toward a structural based reliability framework (FSR)

Ahmad Ghaith, Huimin Ma, Ashraf Labib

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Purpose – High-reliability performance and high-hazard are intertwined in High-Reliability Organizations (HROs) operations; these organizations are highly safe, highly hazardous and highly significant for the modern society, not only for the valuable resources they have, but also the indispensable services they provide. This research intend to understand how HROs could produce high quality performance despite their challenging and demanding contexts. The research followed an emic approach to develop an organizational framework that reflects the contribution of the seeming traits of the organizations to the operations safety based on the workers point of views about the safety of workstations.

Design/methodology/approach – This research adopted mixed methods of in-depth interviews and literature review to identify the structural characteristics of high-reliability organizations (HROs) embedded in the organizations studies and developed a theoretical based structural framework for HROs. Furthermore, a systemic literature review was adopted to find the evidence from the organizations literature for the identified characteristics from the interviews from the first stage. The setting for this study is six Chinese power stations, four stations in Hubei province central China and two stations in the southern China Guangdong province.

Findings – The organizational framework is a key determinant to achieve high-reliability performance; however, solely it cannot explain how HROs manage the risks of hazard events and operate safely in high-hazard environments. High-reliability performance is attributed to the interaction between two sets of determinants of safety and hazard. The findings of this research indicate that HROs systems would be described as reliable or hazardous depending on the tightly coupled setting, complexity, bureaucracy involvement and dynamicity within the systems from one hand, and safety orientation, failure intolerance, systemwide processing, the institutional setting and the employment of redundant systems on other hand.

Originality/value – The authors developed an organizational framework of organizing the safety work in HROs. The applied method of interviewing and literature review was not adopted in any other researches.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)936-960
Number of pages25
JournalInternational Journal of Quality & Reliability Management
Issue number4
Early online date14 May 2021
Publication statusPublished - 7 Mar 2022


  • organizational performance
  • high-reliability organizations
  • organization safety
  • organizational framework


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