Risking Lives for Profit: Analyzing Corporate Risk Taking With Event Trees Among a Sample of Commercial Passenger Vessel Casualties

Gisela Bichler-Robertson, Rutgers University

When maritime transportation catastrophes occur investigations seek to identify the individual(s) directly responsible for the incident and in doing so, overlook and even neglect the role of the larger organization. Sailing schedules, staffing deficiencies, and poor equipment maintenance, are all profit driven decisions made by the corporation that directly affect the operating conditions of the vessel. In this sense, the corporation chooses to maximize profit at the expense of safety thereby warranting some degree of culpability for ensuing tragedies. Research examining corporate misconduct is often criticized for using single case studies to examine important concepts. To address this limitation, the current study involves the analysis of 30 case studies to examine whether maritime casualties among commercial passenger vessels can be attributed to corporate negligence. Analysis follows the strategy used by Hagenzieker and Wagenaar (1987), to examine whether risk taking was the principle cause of maritime accidents. This research builds upon the prior work by , focusing on a single component of maritime commerical trade and it examines decision making with event trees on three operational levels a priori rather than post hoc.

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Updated 05/20/2006